In the mood for Frijoles Negros!

Black Turtle Beans… a staple of Latin American cooking and probably my favorite legume. The three dishes below demonstrate the flavor and convenience of canned black beans when combined with other fresh ingredients. The gobs of cheese and sauce that you find in many Mexican restaurant dishes can be tiresome and before long everything starts to taste the same.  These recipes showcase some of the wonderful flavors of Latin American and southwestern cuisine without all that heaviness…perfect for summer!


Delicious, Clean and Healthy Tostata

Yes, that is the name of this recipe from The Family Chef, by Jewels and Jill Elmore.  But when I served this for dinner, no one in my family commented on how healthy it seemed.  They just ate it up and asked for more. I’ve made a couple of changes just to simplify a step or two.  I get the achiote paste at the Mexican market.  It comes in a little box and makes the most amazingly vivid orange marinade with a wonderful flavor.  Definitely worth the trip to the market.
6 corn tortillas
1/8 cup oil
1 can seasoned black beans
1/4 head cabbage
1/4 head lettuce
1 bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 spring green onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 cup cotija cheese
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup pickled red onion (recipe below)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
achiote marinade (recipe below)
1.  Prepare the Achiote Marinade.
2.  Marinate chicken for at least 20 minutes and as long as overnight
3.  Prepare the pickled Red Onion
4.  Brush tortillas lightly with oil and bake at about 350 degrees until crispy.
5.  Drain the black beans, do not rinse.
6.  Grill the chicken, cool slightly and slice thinly.
7.  Toss all salad ingredients with a little juice from the pickled red onion and some olive oil.
8.  Assemble the tostadas:  Pile the beans and thinly sliced chicken on the crispy tortillas shells; then add
     the salad.  Top with pickled red onions and serve. Serves 4-6
Pickled Red Onion
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2  tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Heat vinegar with sugar and salt until dissolved.  Add red onions and let sit 20 minutes or longer.
Achiote Marinade
1/2 cup achiote paste
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup light oil
1 lime, juiced
Mix all ingredients in a blender.

Spicy Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans and Queso Fresco

This lovely salad has a distinct warm and smoky flavor from the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.  The queso fresco is mild so it absorbs the flavors of the dressing and is a wonderful contrast to the sweet crunchy grilled corn. The recipe is from Fine Cooking. 
3 ears fresh corn, husked
1 medium red onion, cut into disks about 1/3 inch thick
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small chipotle pepper, seeded and minced, plus one tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Prepare a grill.  Brush corn, onion and bell pepper with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill corn and onion until beginning to brown, 6-10 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly.  Grill the pepper until charred on all sides, about 12 minutes.  Put the pepper in a bowl, cover, and cool slightly.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk 6 tablespoons oil, the chipotle and the adobo sauce, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Coarsely chop the onion and put it in a large bowl.  Cut the corn from the cobs and add to the bowl.  Skin, seed, and coarsely chop the pepper; add to the bowl, along with the beans, cheese, cilantro and oregano.  Re-whisk the dressing , add it to the corn mixture and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

One of my sons raved about the butternut squash quesadillas that he had at The Garden Grille in Providence, RI and this is our attempt to recreate them.  We used sweet potatoes instead of the squash and added caramelized onions and black beans.  On our first try, we overdid the cheese and while they were fine, we didn’t get the bright sweet potato flavor that we were looking for.  Being light handed with the cheese was the trick to nailing this copycat recipe. ( I didn’t write down any amounts while playing around with these quesadillas so I will just give a general game plan)
several sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
a couple of Vidalia onions, peeled and thinly sliced
a can black beans, drained and rinsed
queso fresco cheese, crumbled
grated cheese (cheddar or colby/jack)
olive oil
large flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put the potatoes in a roasting pan and toss with a bit of oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out into a single layer and roast until tender and starting to brown…this will only take 10-15 minutes. While potatoes are roasting, cook the onions slowly in a drizzle of oil, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden.
Preheat broiler, leaving the rack in the middle of the oven.  Brush one side of a tortilla with oil or melted butter and place it buttered-side down on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a light layer or queso fresco then add a layer of caramelized onions.  Top this with roasted sweet potatoes and black beans and a sprinkle of the grated cheese.  Cover with 2nd tortilla and brush the top with oil or butter.  Broil quesadilla until golden brown on one side (this will only take a minute or two so watch carefully) then remove from oven and use a spatula to press down on it gently (this will help the melting cheeses hold it together) and carefully flip it over and return to oven to brown the other side. Cut into wedges and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and or salsa, if desired.

In the mood for a Dip!

I’ll be heading to Mississippi for a family reunion this week…three days of visitin’, playin’ and eatin’.  I see “catfish n’ fixins” on the itinerary as well as picnics and barbecues so I think I’d better step away from this computer and get in some serious exercise in preparation. Today I offer three great chip and dip combinations that should cover the bases for any type of 4th of July celebration that you may be hosting this year.

Barbecue Potato Chips with Peppered Feta Dip

I find this combination of flavors positively addictive! The dip is best at room temperature and I think that Cape Cod brand BBQ potato chips work really well as they are nice and sturdy and won’t crumble into the dip. I cut this recipe out of a magazine several years ago and didn’t note the source.  My apologies to the creator.
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or plain yogurt
1/2 cup pickled peppers (pepperoncini and/or Sweet red cherry peppers) sliced (see note)
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
BBQ potato chips
Blend feta, cream cheese, and mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl periodically.  Transfer to a mixing bowl,
Fold in peppers, scallions, lemon zest, and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and chill at least 1 hour to let flavors develop.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.  Drizzle dip with oil and garnish with additional pepper.  Serve with BBQ potato chips.
note: I’ve used both types of pickled peppers in the recipe and while both are good, I prefer the red.  In the photo I used Peppadew Mild whole sweet Piquante peppers.

Marie’s Herbed Cottage Cheese Dip

Sometimes it is nice to have a healthy, no guilt, option.  Especially on a weekend that is sure to be full of hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue and all those “fixins”.  This dip is light, clean tasting, and chock full of vegetables and fresh herbs.  I’ve served it here with carrots and pretzel chips but it is also good with others vegetable crudities or pita bread. This recipe is from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table.

2 cups cottage cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and cup into tiny dice
2 small cucumbers, peeled and cut into tiny dice
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into tiny dice (optional)

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Serve.


Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Cilantro


This lovely little dip is elegant in its simplicity yet casual enough for any barbecue.  It is from the July 2001 issue of Food and Wine magazine and is offered as an example of what one might find around the southern tip of Baja.  In the photos here, I have minced the red onion instead of slicing it and I also doubled the amount of avocado.
1 pound Sushi grade tuna
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large Hass avocado, cut into 1/3 inch dice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
tortilla chips for serving
Cut the tuna into slices, 1/4 inch thick.  Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.  Arrange the tuna slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and freeze until fairly firm, about 15 minutes.
Stack the slices of tie using a very sharp chef’s knife, cut the tuna into meat 1/4 inch cubes.  Transfer the cubed tuna to a medium glass or ceramic bowl and stir in the red onion, lime juice and black pepper.  Cover the tuna with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, stirring gently with a plastic spatula every 15 to 20 minutes (the diced tuna will change color slightly as the lime juice “cooks” it)
Just before serving, gently fold in the diced avocado and chopped cilantro and season with salt.  Transfer the ceviche to a bowl , garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

In the mood for Shrimp…hot off the grill!

It’s 95 degrees here in North Carolina today…seems more like August than June…. so I thought that I would share some favorite grilled shrimp recipes. Shrimp is the perfect protein for a hot summer supper.  The kitchen will stay cool and you will only have to stand over the hot grill for 5 minutes or so.

I prefer to buy shrimp at the fish market, and mine will peel and devein them for me if I call them and order in advance.  They charge an extra dollar per pound but it’s worth it.  If I buy shrimp a grocery store, I always peel and devein it myself.  Most shrimp has been frozen at some point and the shell protects the meat. Other general guidelines:

Shrimp should be firm and have a full shell with white meat.  (Don’t hesitate to ask for a smell.  It is annoying to get home and open a package of shrimp and get that strong “shrimpy” smell.)  If there is the smell of ammonia then the shrimp is way past it’s prime.

Go ahead and buy frozen shrimp and defrost it yourself if the “fresh” shrimp at the market looks or smells tired.

Never buy shrimp with black spots or rings on the shell. (Unless it is Black Tiger Shrimp)

I actually have quite a few shrimp recipes for the grill, but these three are the best of the best.  Enjoy!


Spicy Grilled Jalapeno and Lime Shrimp

This recipe is from Cooks Country (June, 2007). You can adjust the amount of jalapeno according to your taste for heat.  Either way, these shrimp have a big burst of flavor that I love.
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
5 tablespoons lime juice
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1.  For the marinade: Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth.  Reserve 2 tablespoons marinade; transfer remaining marinade to medium bowl.
2.  For the shrimp:  Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and add to bowl with the marinade.  Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but not more than an hour. (after that, the lime juice will begin to “cook” the shrimp.)
3.  Heat grill on high.  Thread shrimp onto metal skewers and sprinkle one side of shrimp with sugar.  Grill shrimp sugar side down on the hot grill until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip skewers and cook another 1-2 minutes until just no longer translucent.  Using tongs, slide shrimp from the skewers into a medium bowl and toss with reserved marinade.  Sprinkle with minced cilantro and serve.
Serves 4.

Grilled Herb Shrimp

This has been my go-to shrimp recipe for years.  It comes from the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and she mentions that it is a slight variation of the recipe in the New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne. Kudos all around for such a winning recipe.  The Contessa serves it with a mango salsa which is very good.  I have tossed it with pasta, skewered it for appetizers, served it over grits, and mixed it into salads.  One of my favorite things about this dish is that it can marinate for as little as one hour and up to two days!  I have marinated pounds of shrimp, filled up big zip lock bags, set them on ice in a cooler and  travelled to the beach for a cookout.  The easiest way to cook them is to use long metal skewers.  But they can be grilled individually as well…it just takes a bit longer to get them all turned. I do use wooden skewers from time to time but they really can be a bother catching fire, etc.
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
1/4 minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, the mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Add the shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or preheat gas grill to high.  Clean the grill rack well and brush with oil to prevent sticking. Skewer the shrimp and grill for 1-2 minutes per side.  Serves 6

Crusty Grilled Shrimp with Soy-Sesame Sauce

When I first tried this recipe, I couldn’t quite see how it would work to grill breaded shrimp.  I thought that I might be in for a huge mess on the grill.  Well, it does leave a bit more mess than the other shrimp recipes I’m giving you but I promise that it is worth it.  I have never, ever, had one shrimp left over when serving this dish.   (These shrimp can also be broiled in the oven.  I suggest that you do a trial with one or two shrimp to determine the timing and the rack placement that works best with your oven.  I found that putting the rack in the middle of the oven and turning the shrimp once after 2 minutes worked best for having the breading crispy and brown and the shrimp cooked through all at the same time.) The recipe is from At Blanchard’s Table, by Bob and Melinda Blanchard.
1 pound large shrimp
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Prepare the grill.  Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.  Using a small knife, butterfly the shrimp by slicing down the length of the inside of each. Be careful not to cut all the way through.  Spread and flatten the butterflied shrimp.
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Put the bread crumb mixture in a pile on a cutting board.  Coat both side of the shrimp with the bread crumbs.
In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil together and set aside.
  Grill the shrimp on both sides until just done, about 4 minutes.  Drizzle with the soy-sesame sauce.  Serve immediately. Serves 5-6

In the mood for a Sweet Shortcut!

Here are three recipes for those times when you are entertaining but either don’t have time or aren’t in the mood to bake.  Now I admit I have been known to pop open a box of Dove Bars for company on occasion but in general, I prefer something a little more original.  I’ll order them by degree of difficulty and mess, starting with one so easy that it is not even a recipe, just an idea, and a tasty one at that.


Yep, that’s it. Pieces of your favorite ice cream sandwich skewered with a juicy sweet raspberry on a cute bamboo toothpick.  Put your serving platter in the freezer for a bit so they won’t melt while they are being passed around.  Shouldn’t be a problem…they disappear quickly.





Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches

You might be surprised to taste the difference between these semi-homemade ice cream sandwiches and the store bought variety.  I like to use small cookies so the dessert becomes a 3-4 bite treat.  The softEntenmann’s cookies make good sandwiches as do the crispy, buttery mini cookies that many gourmet companies package for sale.  The Chips Ahoy cookies tend to get rock hard in the freezer so I avoid those.
     Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper and set your favorite gourmet ice cream out to soften a bit.  Use a table knife to generously mound ice cream onto one cookie and top with a second cookie.  Take care not to press the sandwich together too firmly, just a gentle touch so that it will hold together.  I like to quickly over-fill as many cookies as possible then put the whole sheet in the freezer to firm up for 15 minutes.  Then I quickly trim around the edges of each sandwich with a table knife to neaten them up.
     As an extra touch, I like to drizzle melted white chocolate and melted semi sweet chocolate over the tops of the ice cream sandwiches.  The quickest and easiest way to do this it to melt the chocolates separately in glass Pyrex cups in the microwave then stir and use a fork to drizzle.  After the sandwiches are frozen firmly, cover with plastic wrap or store in a zip lock freezer bag until ready to serve.

Ice Cream Bonbons

 These little ice cream bonbons may be a little more work than the 2 previous desserts….but I think that these will be my go-to sweet shortcut for summer 2011.  If you like buttery caramel, covered in chocolate and dusted with flakes of sea salt just imagine how much you will love this same treat substituting caramel ice cream. Adapted from the June 2011 issue of Food and Wine in an article on Ice Cream Parlor Tricks,  these are just my style for summer entertaining.
10 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Wafers)
1 pint caramel ice cream (I used Haagen Dazs Dulche de Leche)
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and white chocolate together.  Scrape into a smaller cowl and let cool slightly.
Put the crushed cookies on a small plate.  Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and place one in the freezer.  Fill a cup wit ice water
Working very quickly, scoop a 1 tablespoon size scoop of ice cream, packing it tightly.  Transfer it to the melted chocolate.  Using a skewer, poke the rounded top of the ice cream and coat the ball int he chocolate.  Lift the bonbon, allowing the excess chocolate to drip into the bowl.  dip the bottom of the bonbon in the cookie crumbs and set on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle salt on tom.  Let stand for 10 seconds then transfer the bonbon to the baking sheet in the freezer.  Repeat to form the remaining bonbons; dip the ice cream scoop in the ice water between scoops.  Freeze the bonbons until firm 30 minutes. then serve.
(I found it helpful to use a mini scoop (the one I use for cookie dough) and make all of the the ice cream balls at one time and freeze them solid before I began the chocolate dipping process.)

In which I make Asian Potstickers!

It seems to me that everyone loves Asian dumplings…especially pot stickers.  I don’t believe that I have ever managed to make too many.  I offer up the recipe all the time but rarely get any takers.  Most people say that they wouldn’t have the nerve to try to make something like this. But they are actually very easy and  quite fun to make!  So I have photo-documented the process for making two types of pot stickers just to prove my point.

Crab Pot Stickers with Sesame Ginger Dipping Sauce
This recipe from Gourmet Magazine is the easiest dumpling recipe I’ve ever tried.  It’s a great place to start if you’ve never worked with the wrappers before.  These wonderful little serving spoons are from CB2 .
For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root
2 1/2 teaspoons water
For the filling:
1 scallion
6 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root
12 gyoza wrappers, thawed
cornstarch for dusting
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Make the dipping sauce.
In a small bowl, whisk together all dipping sauce ingredients.
Chop scallion and pick over crab meat to remove any bits of shell and cartilage.  Break up any larger pieces of crab.
In a dry small skillet toast sesame seeds with a pinch of salt over moderate heat, stirring frequently until golden, about 2 minutes,  Transfer seeds to a medium bowl and cool slightly,  Add egg white and ginger root to seeds and lightly beat.  Gently stir in crab and scallion and season with salt and pepper.
These are the thin, round wrappers to use for pot stickers. (There are several good brands available) They can be found in the freezer section of any Asian market. Keep them in the package while defrosting so that they don't dry out.
These are the thin, round wrappers to use for pot stickers. (There are several good brands available) They can be found in the freezer section of any Asian market. Keep them in the package while defrosting so that they don’t dry out.



Defrosted wrappers, ready to be filled.
Place one wrapper on a flat surface.  Dip a finger in water and moisten the edges.
Place 1 tablespoon of the crab filling in the center of the wrapper. Then, using both hands, bring up the sides of the wrapper and gently pinch them towards each other. Let the filling show through at the top creating a shape like a draw string purse.
Place the filled pot stickers in a single layer on a baking tray dusted with corn starch. (If you are not going to cook them right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Place pot stickers in pan, giving them enough room so that they do not touch.  Let cook until bottoms are starting to turn golden (about one minute) then…
add 1/4 cup water and cover the pan immediately to allow the pot stickers to steam until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Remove lid and cook until any remaining water is evaporated and the bottoms of the pot stickers are golden brown.
Serve with dipping sauce.  Makes 12. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

Family Favorite Pot Stickers

These are the dumplings that my kids have grown up on. Once you get the hang of the folding and pleating, they don’t take long at all to assemble.  And they freeze beautifully so go ahead and make a huge batch.  Then the next time you are in the mood for pot stickers, you can cook them straight from the freezer (just increase the steaming time by a minute or two).  Of course you can use almost any ground meat or chopped seafood in these.  We most often turn to the convenience and light healthy taste of freshly ground turkey breast meat and I often add other veggies such as minced water chestnuts or scallions.
For the dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1 teaspoon minced scallion
1 teaspoon minced red jalapeno, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons water
In a small bowl, whisk all dipping sauce ingredients together and set aside.
For the filling:
1/2 pound ground turkey breast
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry or sake
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger root
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup coarsely grated carrot
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
In a small bowl, mix all filling ingredients together, gently but thoroughly.
36 gyoza wrappers
a couple of tablespoon of vegetable oil
low sodium chicken broth for steaming
To fill the dumplings, moisten the edge of a wrapper with water and put a scant tablespoon of filling in the center.  Fold wrapper in half to create a half moon shape and seal the dumpling by making little folds in the top edge.  The bottom of the pot sticker will be flat as seen below left.  And the top will be pleated as in photo below right.
Place filled pot stickers on cornstarch dusted baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not using immediately. Or to freeze, place whole baking sheet in the freezer until the dumplings are frozen solid then transfer to a zip lock freezer bag.
These pot stickers are cooked just like the crab pot stickers in the previous recipe but I like to use reduced sodium chicken broth for the steaming liquid instead of water.  So heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet and fry the dumplings (one layer, well spaced) until they begin to brown on the bottom.  Add about 1/4 cup chicken broth and cover immediately to steam for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cover and let any remaining broth evaporate.  The pot stickers are ready when they are well browned on the bottom and “stuck” to the pan. (not too stuck since you are using a non stick pan) Serve with dipping sauce.

In the mood to Hold The Mayo!

 “Hold the mayo!” That’s one thing you will never hear me say.  I love the stuff.  Homemade or Hellman’s, I grew up on it.  But I married a man who can’t stand mayonnaise and it must be a genetic trait passed down through the male, because not one of my four children will tolerate even a dab of the glossy white condiment.  It used to drive me crazy.  No chicken salad, no potato salad, no deviled eggs!  How the heck do you get your BLT sandwich to stick together?  I used to eat mayonnaise sandwiches when the lunch options at my summer camp looked suspicious.  And I think that it was my sister who liked to mix mayonnaise and mustard together and dip potato chips in it.  But one day it occurred to me… Why am I trying to get my kids to eat mayonnaise??? With 90 calories and 10 grams of fat in just one single tablespoon, mayonnaise isn’t exactly health food.  Here are three wonderful recipes that will demonstrate how yummy it can be when you hold the mayo.


Curried Chicken Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Raita

I can’t say enough about this chicken salad…the cool yogurt and the combination of spices is really special.  You can layer it as I did in a beautiful glass for a nice luncheon presentation, layer it in a jar for a picnic, (as described in this recipe from Gourmet Magazine, August 2008) or just mix the whole thing up in a big bowl for a casual family style meal.
For curried chicken salad:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat coarsely shredded (3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved

For chickpeas:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For raita and topping:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled, cored, and chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Make curried chicken salad: 
Cook onion, garlic, and ginger in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry, cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in yogurt, cilantro, and chicken. Cool to room temperature.
Make chickpeas: 
Heat oil in cleaned skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook chickpeas, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring to coat, until skillet is dry, about 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Make raita:
Stir together yogurt, cucumber, mint, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Assemble jars: 
Divide grapes among jars and layer curried chicken, raita, chickpeas, and almonds on top.

Makes 4 servings


Mexican Potato and Black Bean Salad

It is super easy to make a potato salad without mayonnaise since potatoes work

with almost any vinaigrette, but this one is really special.  Sweet potatoes, corn, black bean, cilantro and one of the best dressings I have ever had.  This is from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers.

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Chipotle-Chile Dressing
1 chipotle chili (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato chunks with the oil to lightly coat them.  Sprinkle with coriander,cumin, chili powder and salt and toss again.  Spread that potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are golden at the edges and just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, steam the corn for 3-5 minutes.  Drain excess water.  In a large serving bowl, combine the corn and black beans.
To make the dressing, in a blender or feed processor, place the chipotle chili, garlic and sweet chili sauce.  Process until mixture is smooth. Add the lime juice ad process again.  Add the canola oil and process until it is emulsified.
When the sweet potatoes are done, let coll slightly and add them to the corn and beans.  Add scallions and cilantro and toss gently.  Pour enough dressing over the salad to just moisten the ingredients and toss again.

 Southwestern Deviled Eggs

This fun recipe is adapted from Taste of the South (April-May 2011).  The original calls for a sprinkling of crushed tortilla chips so you can certainly do that if you want to simplify the recipe.  I wanted the shape and texture of these corn tortilla slivers and they only take a minute to fry.  If, like me, you don’t have one of those platters specially designed to serve deviled eggs, just use a sharp knife and take a tiny sliver off the bottom of each half egg.  That way, the eggs will stay stable on the plate and not roll about.

12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely shredded pepper Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 corn tortillas, finely slivered
salt to taste
coarse ground pepper
fresh cilantro
Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and mash the yolks with a fork.  Add sour cream, pepper jack cheese, green onion, chili powder and salt and mix well.  Spoon into the egg whites. Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the tortilla strips until light brown, 45-60 seconds, and drain on paper towels.  Salt lightly. Garnish the eggs with the fried tortilla strips, chopped fresh cilantro, and a generous sprinkle of coarse ground black pepper.

In the mood for a Champion’s Dinner…celebrating Masters week 2011

I recently learned that on Tuesday night of Masters week, the reining champion hosts a dinner for all previous tournament champions, an elite group indeed.  Not only does he get to choose the menu but he also is responsible for the check.  And, adding to the pressure (in my opinion) if the guests don’t fancy the menu that the host offers they are allowed to order something else off the regular clubhouse menu.  I can only imagine how busy the clubhouse kitchen was in 1989 when Sandy Lyle served Haggis and mashed turnips to his fellow golfers.

Tiger served cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes following his first Masters trophy in 1997 (perfect for the youngest Master Champion at 22) and since then he has served porterhouse steaks twice and then a Mexican style fajita dinner in 2006.  Understandably, players like to tout their own local cuisines…..  wiener schnitzel for Bernherd Langer, fish and chips for Nick Faldo and paella and tapas for Jose Maria Olazabal.  Check out VJ Singh’s menu:  seafood tom kah, chicken panang curry, baked sea scallops with garlic sauce, rack of lamb with yellow kari sauce, baked filet, Chilean sea bass with three flavor chili sauce, lychee sorbet.  YUM!

And so this week, Phil Michelson hosted his third Champions dinner.  After his first win in 2004, Phil served lobster ravioli in tomato cream sauce, caesar salad and garlic bread and then moved on to more casual fare (barbecue ribs, chicken, sausage and pulled pork with cole slaw) for his second go round.   I understand that this week he hosted a spanish feast to honor his friend and Spain’s greatest golfer, Seve Ballesteros, who is unfortunately quite ill and could not attend.

What follows is my interpretation of this years menu from the Champions Dinner at Augusta National.



Seafood Paella

Now I admit, this is not “authentic” paella.  But you should really make note of this brilliant recipe from Bob and Melinda Blanchard.  In it’s original form, it is Tequila Shrimp with Saffron Rice from their book,Cook What You Love.  I’ve made it many times and will give it to you verbatim so you can too.  For my spanish feast, I’ve substituted fresh clams for the black beans to give it a real paella look and taste.  If you choose to do that as well, add the clams when you stir in the rice as they take longer to cook than the shrimp.
1/4 cup olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound chorizo, thinly sliced (I tend to use about half that amount and I like the spicy chorizo)
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (use one can chopped tomatoes if out of season)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups tequila
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large pinch saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large, shallow ovenproof casserole, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally,  Add the chorizo and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and beans and sir well.  Increase the heat to high and add the tequila, chicken broth, rice, salt, saffron and turmeric and stir well again.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the shrimp, mix well, and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked and the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Serve right away.  Serves 6

Arugula with Gazpacho Vinaigrette

During my quick research into the Champion’s Dinner menu for this year I found descriptions of two different salads. One a simple mesclun with sherry vinaigrette and olives and one a mixed salad with a gazpacho dressing.  I think that the latter sounds more interesting so here is my version.  I used spicy arugula, which really holds it own with the bold flavor of this vinaigrette.  You could make this in a blender to get a smooth dressing but I kind of like the colors and textures that hand chopping delivers.  This dressing comes from a recipe for a lovely new potato salad in a little book called Vegetable Sides, published by Rylan, Peters and Small.
Gazpacho Dressing
2 large ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced
2 ounces roasted red peppers (from a jar) diced (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
a bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put all dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over fresh arugula.

Filet of Beef with Smoked Paprika and Garlic

Phil’s menu calls for prime beef tenderloin with manchego cheese and smoked paprika demiglace.  This reminded me of an excellent yet very simple recipe for a whole tenderloin that I cut out of Gourmet Magazine (July 2008) and have adapted here to create a quick and east way to impart warm, wonderful spanish flavors to the tender beef filets.
2 large garlic cloves, minced finely
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-6 beef tenderloin filets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Mix garlic, paprika, cumin and olive oil together and rub this mixture into the filets.  Cover and let marinate several hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.  Stir together the mayonnaise and the paprika and cumin and set aside.  Grill steaks until desired doneness and serve with the spiced mayo and lime wedges.

Apple Empanadas with Vanilla Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

The Champion’s menu called for an ice-cream topped apple empanada.  I’ve chosen to top the ice cream with dulce de leche and serve the pastries on the side.  Adapted from a recipe for Sweet Apple Cinnamon Empanadas by Marian Blazes in an article on South American Food (, these melt in your mouth pastries can be dessert one night and breakfast the next morning.
For the pastry:
1 cup butter, chilled
8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
2 1/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
4-5 Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water
coarse sugar for sprinkling
1.  For the pastry, put flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly.  Add the butter and the cream cheese and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together.   Add the vanilla and pulse twice more.  The mixture will look crumbly.  Turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring the dough together and pat it into a disk.  Wrap well in plastic and chill for at least 2 hour, or overnight.
2.  For the filling, place the apple cubes in a saucepan with the butter, sugars, cinnamon and salt.  Stir over medium heat until the apples are tender then add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
3. To shape empanadas:  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch.  Cut out 4 inch circles, gathering scraps and re-rolling as necessary.  Wet the edge of a dough circle slightly, all around the perimeter.  Place one scant tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough.  Fold the circle in half, enclosing the filling and press the edges together firmly, flattening and extending them slightly as you pinch them.  Fold and crimp the flattened edge over itself to seal.  Repeat with the remaining empanadas.
4.  Chill empanadas for about and hour for best results (or 15 minutes in the freezer).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix egg yolk with a little bit of water and brush over empanadas.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
5.  Serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream and dulce de leche, or your favorite caramel sauce. (pastries may be reheated in a low oven if you like)

In which I make Lasagna…for the first time in 25 years!

     Once upon a time, there was a cute young co-ed who fell madly in love with a handsome and dashing quarterback and after a long courtship, which involved far too many cafeteria meals, they were more than excited to set up their own little apartment and create a home together.  Now, since this young co-ed had become a preschool teacher and got off work at 3:30, it fell upon her to make plans for the evening meals and this was a responsibility that she actually quite enjoyed, much to the relief of her quarterback (at this point an entry level marketing manager, but let’s stick with quarterback).  Each day after work, she would make a quick call to his office to discuss what they might have for dinner that evening.
     One evening, they decided that they were in the mood for lasagna and so the preschool teacher set about to accomplish this.  She happily toiled away in her tiny kitchen with no dishwasher, a mini fridge, two burners and a stacked washer/dryer set that took up way too much space.  Later that evening, after a mediocre meal, and spotting a sink piled high with dirty pots and pans, the young quarterback said, “I just don’t think that it is worth it to make lasagna from scratch since you really can’t beat the one made by Stouffer’s”. Now the young preschool teacher, being quite practical and not terribly thin-skinned despite her tender age, took this to heart and never made lasagna again.
     The years passed. Children were born (4). The preschool teacher became a full time mom. She long ago gave up asking anyone what they wanted for dinner (except birthdays and special occasions, of course) and cooked what (and when) she was in the mood to cook.  And the children grew up without lasagna.  To them, it was just that frozen dinner in the red box that dad sometimes ate when mom didn’t feel like cooking.
     Then one day (yesterday, actually) this hopefully still somewhat cute yet decidedly middle-aged mom, decided that she was in the mood to master lasagna.  Surely now, after 25 years of more successes than failures in the kitchen, she would be able to best that giant of frozen entrees, Stouffer’s. She turned toCooks Illustrated (September 2004) which she considers to be the master of well thought out and meticulously tested recipes and what follows is documentation of…

“Damn, that was good lasagna!” -the quarterback

…and they lived happily ever after. 





  • Meat Sauce
  • 1medium carrot , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1medium rib celery , roughly chopped
  • 1/2small onion , roughly chopped
  • (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8ounces ground beef , preferably 90 percent lean
  • 8ounces ground pork
  • 8ounces ground veal
  • 1 1/2cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2cups dry white wine
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Béchamel
  • 4tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4cups whole milk
  • 3/4teaspoon table salt
  • Noodles and Cheese
  • 15sheets no-boil lasagna noodles (9 ounces)
  • 4ounces Parmesan cheese , grated (2 cups)





For the meat sauce: Process carrot, celery, and onion in food processor until finely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl as necessary; transfer mixture to small bowl. Wipe out food processor work bowl; process tomatoes and juice until finely chopped, six to eight 1-second pulses.




Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming; add carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.




Add ground meats and cook, breaking meat into 1-inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute.  Add milk and stir, breaking meat into 1/2-inch bits; bring to simmer and cook, stirring to break meat into small pieces, until almost all liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. Using potato masher or wooden spoon, break up any remaining clumps of meat (no large pieces should remain). Add wine and bring to simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes.




Stir in tomato paste until combined, about 1 minute; add chopped tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. (You should have about 6 cups meat sauce.) Transfer meat sauce to bowl and cool until just warm to touch, about 30 minutes.

2. For the béchamel: While meat sauce simmers, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming; add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 1 1/2 minutes; mixture should not brown. Gradually whisk in milk; increase heat to medium-high and bring to full boil, whisking frequently. Add salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to scrape bottom and corners of saucepan. (You should have about 3 1/3 cups.) Transfer béchamel to bowl and cool until just warm to touch, about 30 minutes.




3. To assemble and bake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch baking dish and cover with very hot tap water; soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water, place in single layer on kitchen towel, and pat dry. Wipe out baking dish and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Stir béchamel to recombine; mix 3/4 cup warm béchamel into warm meat sauce until thoroughly combined.






4. Distribute 1 cup béchamel-enriched meat sauce in baking dish. Place three noodles in single layer on top of sauce, arranging them close together, but not touching, at center of pan. Spread 1 1/4 cups béchamel-enriched meat sauce evenly over noodles, spreading sauce to edge of noodles but not to edge of dish (see illustration 1). Drizzle 1/3 cup béchamel evenly over meat sauce (illustration 2). Sprinkle 1/3 cup Parmesan evenly over béchamel. Repeat layering of noodles, béchamel-enriched meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese 3 more times. Place final 3 noodles on top and cover completely with remaining béchamel, spreading béchamel with rubber spatula and allowing it to spill over noodles (illustration 3). Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan.

5. Spray large sheet foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna; bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 450 degrees, and continue to bake until surface is spotty brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.


In the mood for a Tea Party, Southern Style!

  Although you never need an excuse to have a tea party, this one has a special purpose.  The folks atFoodbuzz have joined forces with Kelly Confidential  to raise money for The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and are donating $50 for every tea party posted today.  And on Friday, these tea parties will be the subject of a Foodbuzz “Top 9 Takeover”!  Fun stuff… and all for a very important cause.  You too can help raise money by going to Kelly Confidential and simply voting for an outfit for Kelly to wear to her “virtual tea party”.
So welcome to my tea party….southern style!
 A southern style tea party needs iced sweet tea, of course!

Pimento Cheese, Tomato and Chive Finger Sandwiches

Two of the South’s favorite sandwiches in one.  How can something so simple be so sublime?  When I was little, I used to pick the slivers of red pimento out of my pimento cheese sandwich so I appreciated the version that my Aunt Caroline made in a blender.  My version uses mild yellow cheddar and those wonderful sweet fire roasted red peppers that you find in a jar.  And although I no longer have an aversion to colorful specks in my food, I still like to blend my pimento cheese.  It just seems to take that lovely pimento flavor all throughout the spread.
For the pimento cheese:
1/3 pound mild cheddar
2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
several strips of roasted sweet red bell peppers (I use the equivalent of 1/2 of a med. red pepper)
Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding more mayo if needed to get to a nice consistency for spreading.
For the sandwiches:
Very Thin White Sandwich Bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced very thinly
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Stack the bread and trim it so that each piece is approximately 3×3 inches.  To construct a sandwich, spread one slice of bread with mayonnaise and top with one or two slices of tomato.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spread pimento cheese on second slice of bread and set that on top of the tomato.  Top with a third slice of bread and press slightly.  Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap until all sandwiches are assembled and you are ready to set your tray.
To serve:  Cut each sandwich twice on the diagonal to create 4 equal triangles.  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise onto the long end, the “uncut” side, of the triangle and gently press this side into your minced fresh chives.  Repeat with remaining sandwiches and arrange on a platter.

Brown Sugar Shortbreads with Smashed Blackberries and Sweet Cream

Slightly sweet flaky biscuits slathered with smashed fresh blackberries and whipped cream…a southern take on the traditional British scones with jam and clotted cream.
For the shortbread:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing tops of biscuits
coarse brown sugar for sprinkling (such as Sugar in the Raw or Demerara Sugar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder sugar and salt.  Cut cold butter into small pieces and toss into the flour.  Then, with a pastry knife, two table knives, or your fingers, blend butter into flour mixture until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs.  Add the cream and stir quickly with a fork until flour is just moistened (do not over work the dough) then turn it onto a lightly floured surface and pat it gently to a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out shortbreads and place them 1 inch apart onto baking sheet.  Brush with additional heavy cream and sprinkle generously with coarse brown sugar.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until puffed and just lightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool.
For the berries and cream:
1 pint fresh blackberries
3/4 cup heavy cream
sugar to taste
Wash the blackberries (don’t dry) then toss them with a tablespoon of sugar (or more, to taste).  Using a table fork, smash berries, leaving some whole until you get a nice chunky jam-like consistency.
Whip cream with a couple of teaspoons of sugar (once again, you can use more if you like).  With this amount of cream, I prefer to whip it by hand with a whisk.  It only takes a few minutes and is good exercise…at least for one arm!
Serve and shortbreads with the smashed berries and cream.

 Hush Puppy and Deviled Crab Bites

 There is nothing dainty about the flavor of this little treat.  Crispy hush puppies, hollowed out slightly and filled with a cool and creamy crab salad.
1 package frozen hush puppies  (I use Savannah Classics original recipe)
8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shell fragments
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon coarse grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Prepare hush puppies according to directions on package.  Let cool slightly then cut top 1/3 off of each hush puppy and remove some of the interior to make room for a nice portion of crab meat.  You may also want to take a tiny sliver from the bottom of each hush puppy so that the finished product will stay level on a serving tray instead of rolling about.
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and horseradish.  Gently stir in crab until it is well coated then taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, fill hush puppies with crab salad and top each with a fresh parsley leaf.

In which I make our favorite Butter-Roasted Potatoes!

Today I am adding a new feature to my little recipe blog.  I’ve decided that I will, from time to time, publish a post that I will call an “In which I…” post (as opposed to an “In the mood for….” post).  In these posts, I will highlight a recipe or a method with detailed instructions and photos.  Mostly this will just be a fun way for me to continue to cook and learn photography at the same time…but it also occurs to me that it might help my kids, grown and almost grown, in their kitchen adventures. So, I’m starting off with something that they love.  It’s very easy but it feels pretty special when you get it right…crispy, buttery, roasted potatoes.




In the photos below, I am making butter roasted potatoes to serve 6-8 people.
3 1/2 pounds red potatoes
5 tablespoons melted butter
coarse ground black pepper
12×17 inch heavy rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


To peel or not to peel?  That’s easy.  If your potatoes look like this
Don’t Peel!
On the other hand, if your potatoes look like this…
Put potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Let boil one minute then…
Use a slotted spoon to transfer potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to make sure potatoes are evenly coated then arrange them in a single layer with the largest flat side down.  (if the potatoes are unpeeled, make sure that they are arranged cut side down.)
Potatoes should be no closer together than this in order to roast properly.
Let potatoes roast undisturbed for 40 minutes or until dark golden brown on the bottom.  (If you try to  toss them around before this bottom crust is formed, they will stick to the pan) Remove from the oven and let sit for 2 minutes then toss them around with a spatula.  At this point, you can either taste for seasonings and serve right away or put them back in the oven for a few minutes.  In any case, they are at their best piping hot out of the oven.
Variations:   Before roasting….season with fresh rosemary and or garlic
                    After roasting….toss with fresh either fresh parsley, chives, or slivered basil
                                             toss with freshly grated Parmesan cheese