31 January 2009

Kentucky Potatoes

Recipes with intriguing names always cause me to stop and look at them. Many vintage cookbooks reside on my shelves, so there are a lot of interesting names. I found the original version of this recipe in an old Farm Journal vegetable cookbook. I have no idea why it is called Kentucky Potatoes. But we really like them! And since I'm still working on that giant bag of potatoes from Costco, we had these with dinner tonight.

Start with potatoes and an onion

I grate all this with my Cuisinart food processor

Ready for the oven


Ready to serve

Kentucky Potatoes

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
2 tsp salt
pepper, to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
7 large potatoes (about 6 cups grated)

Melt butter and stir in flour over low heat. Slowly begin stirring in the milk, blending well. Bring to a boil and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Season with salt & pepper.

Mix the onions and grated potatoes in a large bowl and pour the white sauce over. Turn to mix. Then pour into a greased jelly roll pan and bake @ 300°F for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

1. The original recipe suggested this as a side for ham, but it is also great with bbq chicken, grilled salmon, etc. It also is a good potato dish for breakfast.
2. I grate the potatoes lengthwise in my processor, so there are long shreds.

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Blueberry Martinis

What a lovely way to get in a serving of fruit for the day. And remember, blueberries have lots of antioxidents. These are delish, but they pack a punch. Don't drink too quickly

I collect art deco. One of the pieces I have is the penquin cocktail shaker. Recently I found these penguin topped cocktail picks. They go great with the shaker and I did use it tonight to shake the martinis.

Mike walked in just as I was getting ready to pour and was happy to try one of these in place of a glass of red wine. His and hers.

Blueberry Martinis
(Adapted from a recipe for Blackberry Martinis from The Berry Bible, by Janie Hibler)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup fruit brandy
4 lemon wedges
1 cup gin
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.

To make simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside until cooled.

In a blender or food processor, purée the berries, brandy and remaining tablespoon sugar until smooth.

Prepare four martini glasses: rub the rims with lemon wedges, then dip in sugar on a plate and twirl the glasses in it. Place them in the freezer.

Fill a martini shaker with ice, then add the gin, Grand Marnier and lemon juice. Add 2 Tbsp of the cooled simple syrup and 1/4 cup of the berry purée. Shake robustly for 10 seconds and strain into the glasses. Serve immediately but sip slowly.
Yield: 4 martinis.

Note: Second time I made these I froze some fresh blueberries to add to glass to help keep the drink cook without diluting it.

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Poached Eggs with Corn Polenta & Roasted Pepper Relish

Lazy Saturday mornings sometimes result in brunch (or even an early lunch), rather than breakfast at our house. This is my variation of a recipe that was in Cooking Light a few years ago. While it is nice to serve for brunch, I often like to serve this for supper. And as always, I use the great eggs from our CSA box.

Served in shamrock Fiesta deep plate with a persimmon Fiesta underplate.

Poached Eggs with Corn Polenta & Roasted Pepper Relish

1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup halved or quartered grape tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste

4 cups water
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup cornmeal or dry polenta
1/2 tsp salt, divided
3 Tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4-8 large eggs (depending if people want one or two)

Chopped fresh parsley, garnish

For relish: Combine roasted peppers, tomatoes, basil, oil, and salt. Set aside.

For polenta: Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add corn, cornmeal, and half the salt. Return to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining salt, Parmesan cheese, butter, and black pepper. Cover and keep warm.

For eggs: While polenta cooks, bring water to a boil in a saucepan or large skillet, then reduce to a simmer before adding the eggs (bubbles should not break the surface). The water should not be any more vigorous than small bubbles forming on the bottom of the pan with the occasional little bubble bursting at the top. Break each egg into a small cup or bowl. Try creating a gentle whirlpool in the simmering water and slip the eggs in, one at a time. This tends to keep the white from dissipating. Don't disturb the egg once you have put it in the water! Immediately cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Set a timer for 3 minutes for medium-firm yolks. Adjust the time up or down for runnier or firmer yolks. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on firmness desired. Remove the eggs from water with a slotted spoon, draining well.

Divide polenta between 4 deep plates. Top each serving with 1 (or 2) poached egg(s) and relish. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 4

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Creative Use of Leftovers

So I had made Roasted Salmon with Smoked Paprika Glaze and Baby Greens with Mango and Marinated Onions for dinner and the two dishes really complemented one another well.

Both recipes made more than 3 people could eat for one meal, so for lunch the next day I decided to turn these into a main dish salad. First I put together the salads in deep plates. Then I broke up some of the smoked paprika salmon over the top. This was so good that I've made it a number of times since.

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Baby Greens with Mango & Marinated Onion

I love salads and am always looking at different combinations of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and cheese. Fruits in salads are good any time of year, but I find I use them often in the winter when tomatoes are virtually inedible. This recipe is based on one I saw in Fine Cooking #76. The marinated onions are a great counterpoint to the mango and greens. I like to serve this with grilled chicken or fish. And the flavours are really excellent with the Roast Salmon with Smoked Paprika Glaze.

Baby Greens with Mango & Marinated Onion

1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 to 10 oz. (six to eight large handfuls) baby greens or mesclun
2 medium-size ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and finely diced (about 2 cups)

In a small bowl, combine the onion and red wine vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or up to 90 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the seasoned rice vinegar, canola or grapeseed oil, and the olive oil. Just before serving, generously season the greens with salt and pepper, whisk the dressing, and toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Divide the salad among six or eight large salad plates. Drain the onion. Arrange the onions and mangos over the greens. Serve immediately.

Notes: As we eat from the veggie box, I used fresh green Vidalia onion, rather than red onion. Also, I didn't have enough red wine vinegar so I added some pinot grigio wine vinegar. The proportions were about half and half. My onions were actually in a Tupperware bowl in the fridge for several hours before I used them on the salad.

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Roasted Salmon with Smoked Paprika Glaze

Salmon is the fish of choice in our house. I do believe Mike & DD#2 could eat it every day and never get tired of it. As you might imagine, I have collected tons of recipes for salmon. This one I particularly like because it uses smoked paprika.

I was first introduced to smoked paprika about a dozen years ago on a trip to Spain. Smoking - what a wonderful thing to do to paprika. It adds a whole new layer of flavour to any dish where it is used. I am not able to find it locally, but it can be ordered from La Tienda. I tend to use the bittersweet when making this salmon.

Roasted Salmon with Smoked Paprika Glaze

2 pounds fresh salmon, cut in serving size pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Rinse the salmon and pat it dry. Oil a baking dish and place the salmon in the dish skin-side down. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour half of it into a small pitcher and reserve for the table. Pour and brush the rest of the glaze on the salmon. Roast 10 minutes and check for doneness. Cook it for a few more minutes, if necessary. Serve immediately, passing the reserved glaze at table.

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Spinach Salad with Pepper Jelly Dressing & Blueberry Croutons

Served in a chartreuse Fiesta deep plate.

I love to make this salad to serve to guests. It's one of my signature dishes. The whole salad is really good and the blueberry croutons never fail to impress. It can all be made ahead a bit except for the croutons.

Spinach Salad with Pepper Jelly Dressing & Blueberry Croutons
Serves 4

10 oz fresh baby spinach, washed
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup pitted black olives – I use the mixed ones from the olive bar at Fresh Market
1/2 cup sliced onion (green Vidalia, red, etc.)
Pepper Jelly Dressing (see below)
Blueberry Croutons (see below)

Divide spinach between four plates. Sprinkle each plate with goat cheese, almonds, olives, and onion. Dress each and top with croutons.

Pepper Jelly Dressing
8 oz pepper jelly – I use Apricot Pepper Jelly
1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Heat jelly and vinegar, stirring till jelly melts. Cool to room temperature before using to dress the salad.

Blueberry Croutons
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes
vegetable oil, for frying

Rinse the blueberries, draining off excess water but do not dry them. Roll berries in the flour. Dip the berries in the egg and drain with a slotted spoon. Roll in cornflake crumbs to coat completely.

Heat oil over medium heat. Fry the berries in batches until they are brown and crisp, being careful not to burn. It won’t take very long! Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle over salads.

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Photo Hunt ~ Furry

Photo Hunt #147: Furry was almost too easy of a theme for me. I had quite a few photos that would fit, just had to choose which one. I finally decided to go with this baby mountain goat that I was able to get some shots of in Glacier National Park.

This image was made in mid-summer. The goats have to have a thick coat of fur to survive the frigid temps later in the year. By winter this little guy would have been much furrier.

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30 January 2009

Grilled Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

I always enjoy watching Michael Chiarello. Several years ago he introduced me to grilling avocados. I had never thought of that before, but it's a great thing to do. Particularly when you make this wonderful dressing. Definitely a keeper recipe, it's become one of our favourite dressings.

Avocados on the grill

And the dressing in a jar, ready to go in the fridge to chill

Grilled Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
Michael Chiarello

2 medium avocados
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon roughly chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon roughly chopped tarragon leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grey salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut avocados in half, remove pits and peel. Grill to get some nice grill marks. Then chop into cubes.

In a food processor, combine avocado cubes, lemon or lime juice, basil, tarragon, and garlic. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil to make a thick, creamy dressing. If dressing is too thick to pour, add water, a few tablespoons at a time, to reach the desired consistency. Pour into a bowl, season, to taste, with salt and pepper and cover. Refrigerate until chilled.


1. Grilling the avocados gave them a really nice flavour.
2. The dressing keeps very well. I've had it in the fridge as long as two weeks.

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Friday night medical update

So with my latest blood tests, my red counts are holding. This is good. My neutrophils did drop to 0.0 on the actual count, but I'm still showing a tiny percentage, so I'm not too upset about that. I'm visualising lots of neutrophils reproducing and filling my bloodstream. All those white knight white cells, too. My platelets were down to 12, so I had to get a transfusion of those this morning. I was able to go at 8:30 and my platelets were already there. YEA! I'm really glad I could get them early. Of course, the Benadryl made me sleep all the rest of the day after I got home. But I'm awake now. And am hoping to continue feeling good enough to cook over the weekend.

I definitely cannot eat sushi till the neutrophils increase. And I shouldn't eat raw veggies if they are not ones that I have cleaned carefully at home. The surgeon has released me and the port site has finally healed. No more having to clean and bandage that every evening. Something that's been going on since the first of November. It takes a long time to heal when you have no white count! On balance, I would say the week is going well. And it helps that all my friends are visualising neutrophils along with me.

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Scalloped Potatoes

This is a recipe that came from my paternal grandmother, Mamah. When I was a little girl we lived in the same town in Louisiana with my paternal grandparents. Then my grandfather crossed over when I was 6 years old. Mamah broke up housekeeping and moved 500 miles away to live with my aunt in Fort Worth.

Because I was so young when she moved, I don't have as many memories of her cooking as I do my maternal grandmother, Mimi. However, I do have many of her recipes and was lucky enough in 1978 to spend many hours with her at my aunt's, measuring what she meant when she said things like "half a handful of sugar". Her recipes are collected with all the others in our family cookbook that I put together. At least a couple of hers, I've melded with those of Mimi's to make a completely different dish. It's funny how things like that happen..

Mamah was originally from Lower Alabama. When she was 18 she moved to Houston to stay with her brother and met my grandfather. It was love at first site. She was engaged to a guy back home, but promptly married my grandfather instead. Now Papaw was from Erie, PA. He was a first generation German American and had come with his brothers to Texas to make money in the oilfields. Pennsylvania Dutch and German food meets Southern cuisine had an interesting effect on their menus. My grandparents taught each other about the foods they grew up with. And her MIL taught Mamah how to cook those great foods from Germany and "up north".

Unlike the maternal side of my family which was thoroughly Louisiana and ate a lot of rice, the paternal side of my family had potatoes as their main starch. My Papa used to wax poetic about the wonderful potato dishes Mamah used to make. My Mom learned to make those and so have I. This recipe for scalloped potatoes is simple, old-fashioned comfort food. Sometimes Mamah made it as written as a side. Other times she would top the potatoes with seasoned pork chops or bacon to make it more of a main dish.. Most often she used bacon, I think. My aunt always added cheese, but I don't remember Mamah ever doing that.

I typically make scalloped potatoes without any added meat products or cheese. In it's simplest version it is perfect on a cold winter night. (An aside: I had asked Abbey to buy potatoes for me. She picked up a giant bag at Costco, so I am actively making potato dishes for awhile.) Scalloped Potatoes were on last night's menu. As there were only three of us eating, I did not make the full recipe. Instead I used four potatoes, scaled the other ingredients accordingly, and baked it in a Fiesta square baker.

Four peeled potatoes

Sliced and being layered in the baker with flour, butter and salt

Ready to go in the oven


Ready to serve on a sapphire Fiesta plate

And I violated all the home-ec rules about food colours, etc, Mike had Chicken Kiev with his, but I just ate some roasted onions with mine. It was delish!

Scalloped Potatoes
6 large baking potatoes
1/2 stick butter
2 to 3 cups milk

Peel potatoes and slice into greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with flour and dot with butter. Sprinkle on salt. Make 3 layers, omitting flour on third layer. Potatoes should almost fill the dish. Pour on milk until it comes nearly to the top of dish. Can top with cheese, bacon or browned pork chops, if desired. Bake at 350°F for about an hour.

Note: I always use 2% milk because that is what we buy, but Mamah used whole milk.

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Friday Five: 5 Food Questions

I got this meme from Kate at Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails. Feel free to use this on your blog and leave me a comment with a link so I can see your answers, too.

1) Describe a recipe you’re still chasing.
Teacakes like my great-grandmother used to make. I've tried many recipes, but haven't found any that taste like hers.

2) Describe your specialty in the kitchen.
Vegetables & herbs. I love to eat vegetables & herbs. I love to grow vegetables & herbs. I belong to a CSA and get local organic vegetables every week. Finding different ways to use them is one of the things I enjoy most. Second specialty would be breakfast and third would be my pound cake.

3) What would get you kicked out of the foodie community?
Hmmm. Maybe that I sometimes like to go to Arby's or Sonic and get jalapeño poppers.

4) What was mother’s best and worst dish?

Best: My Mom always made the best ham and raisin sauce that we would often have for Sunday dinner.
Worst: My Mom was an Extension Home Economist. Often they had to develop recipes using bulk foods from the Federal Government. We were the guinea pigs. The very worst I ever recall involved powdered eggs. I've tried to block it from my memory. Fortunately we didn't have to suffer with things like that very often as my Mom is a wonderful cook.

5) What basic, well-known food have you never eaten? Why not?
Kobe beef. I stopped eating red meat in 1984.

6) BONUS ROUND! Dish on a Food Network Star that you love or hate.
Trying to focus on the positive these days: I LOVE Ina Garten. She always seems so relaxed, enjoys her friends and in general has a great time in the kitchen. Her recipes are wonderful and easy for a person to prepare at home without needing a zillion ingredients or having to go out shopping for obscure ingredients all the time. And she gets things prepared ahead of time for entertaining, so the hostess can enjoy the party too. I aspire to be more like her.

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A couple of weeks ago the theme of PhotoHunt was Hats. I love hats. I think I have always loved hats. When I was a little girl my grandmother kept a box of dress-up clothes for my cousins and me. But I never thought the clothes were enough. I had to have heels, gloves, a purse and a hat. Finally my grandmother put a navy blue hat with rhinestones and a veil in the dress-up clothes box for me.

As you might imagine it is somewhat worse for the wear after many hours on a little girl's head, but I still have that hat. And interestingly, when my grandmother was a child, one of her aunts was a milliner and my grandmother used to help in the millinery shop. It was upstairs over the general store in the town that they lived near.

My Mom and my grandmothers all had beautiful hats. Ladies in the south did not go to church on Sundays without wearing hats and gloves. It just wasn't done.

I was lucky enough to inherit some of my grandmothers' hats and my Mom has gifted me with some of hers. Some date back to the 1930s. I think the earliest ones I have are two Scarlet O'Hara hats that came out in ladies' fashions along with the movie, Gone With the Wind.

Over the years I have collected a number of hats from the 1940s and 1950s. For a long time I could find lovely hats in antique stores for less than $5.00 each. My favourites are the ones with veils and rhinestones. Along the way I've also purchased some new hats off and on as interesting ones were fashionable, but none match the glamour of the ones from the 1940s.

I am now lusting over this hat!

The milliner has been swamped with orders for the hat ever since the inauguration. Aretha's custom made version with all the Swarovski crystals cost around $500, but the milliner will not reproduce it in felt with the crystals. Only the Queen of Soul gets a hat worthy of a queen. He is however, selling a crystal-less, fabric version for much, much less. I'm thinking of calling and seeing if I can order it in red. Wouldn't want to be too much of a copycat.

And if you are interested in seeing who else might be wearing Aretha's hat, click here.

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29 January 2009

My Favourite Breakfast

The ubiquitous THEY always say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I really believe that and always feel like things aren't going right if I don't have breakfast. Currently I am the only one in my family who feels that way, so most often I eat alone after the rest are gone off for the day. Breakfast doesn't have to be fancy. Poached eggs and toast are one of my favourite things to have for this meal. Sometimes I add turkey bacon, but I really like this with roasted tomatoes. This particular breakfast had some of the Barefoot Contessa Roasted Tomatoes I made the other day.

Simple to do with divine results. I start with our beautiful free-range fertile eggs from the CSA box. Then I poach them and serve on top of whole wheat toast. Don't even need a recipe, though there is an art to poaching that I will address another time. And fwiw, I have very good cholesterol levels, so eating eggs most mornings is not a problem for me.

CSA eggs

Served on Fiesta

After cutting into the beautiful dark yellow yolks of free-range fertile eggs.

Breakfast is so good!
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Tomatoes Pinot Grigio

This is best made in the summer with fresh garden tomatoes.

All mixed up in a Fiesta Kitchen Kraft mixing bowl:

Tomatoes Pinot Grigio

2 Tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs
4 Tbsp pinot grigio wine vinegar
6 Tbsp good olive oil
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 cup pinot grigio (wine)
6 medium fresh tomatoes, each cut in 6-8 wedges and wedges halved crosswise
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and hearts quartered
1 can whole seedless ripe olives, drained or 1 cup seedless kalamata olives
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Mix together everything except the fresh herbs and marinate in refrigerator for several hours. Stir in the fresh herbs just before serving.

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Lime Juice

Butternut squash often comes in our CSA veggie box during the winter months. This has to be one of my favourite ways to prepare it. The lime makes an amazing difference in the flavour and I absolutely love it!

Prepping the squash

Ready to go in the oven

Halfway through and time to turn

Finished roasting

And ready to eat. Come join me!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Lime Juice
Inspiration for this recipe came from Bon Appétit.

3 1/2 lb butternut squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp melted butter
4 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and cut into 1/2" crosswise slices; peel.

Spray baking sheet with PAM. Mix olive oil, melted butter and lime juice. Place squash on baking sheet and drizzle with lime juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn over pieces of squash and roast 20 more minutes. Serve immediately with wedges of lime. OR, can be prepared 4 hours in advance. Let stand at room temp, then rewarm in 400°F oven for about 10 minutes.

I can't tell you all how very good this is! Give it a try.

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