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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Unusual Ingredients . . . and BABY BOK CHOY SALAD

In the past, I have had to skip so many recipes that called for ingredients I couldn’t find, but nowadays that doesn’t happen so often.  This means cooking can be so much more adventurous, which suits me just fine. 

In fact, my family like to say that I can’t resist a recipe that looks like it won’t work or might be really weird.   

I’d like to thank Diana’s friend, Donna, for sharing the magazine that inspired tonight’s dinner and surprised us with a really excellent salad.  I had already tried the "Farro, cherry tomato, and asparagus casserole".  (I didn't like it, but my daughter did.  Have you ever noticed that when you make something you don't like, there's an awful lot of it?)   I will be making the "Red Quinoa Salad with Raspberries and Beets" when raspberries are back in season. I also want to make the "Short Ribs with Black Barley" but there I'm stuck. . . could not find black barley anywhere.    


Shake and Bake Chicken (a family favorite)

Mixed whole grain rice cakes (Better Homes and Gardens)

Baby Bok Choy and Strawberry Salad


        From Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, March 2013

            Salad Ingredients:
3 or 4 baby bok choy
strawberries (4 to 6 or as many as you like)
Red onion (thinly sliced, as much as you like)

        Dressing ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp liquid honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1.    Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar.  Shake.
2.   Separate bok choy leaves and cut into bite-size pieces.

3.   Slice strawberries.
4.   Slice onion.
5.   Toss salad ingredients with dressing. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


In 2010, Bryan and I stayed at Lord’s Hotel in Matheran, a hill station in India.  There we met a lovely couple:  Ruzie and Farookh, and their delightful children:  Rhea and Rohan.

They invited us to join their family at Rohan’s special ceremony in Mumbai.  

Ruzie and I have stayed in touch ever since, and she’s okay with my sharing some of her recent pictures from India.


        Ruzie says Gwalior is a small town, but the fort and temples were amazing.  


Before trying to make Stuffed Parathas, Bryan first made plain Parathas from Mary Atwood’s book A Taste of India.   Then, he used Mary’s instructions for Stuffed Parathas but, for the filling, he had a recipe given to him, years ago, by an Indian colleague. 

The result was so good that it’s probably going to join the roster of Family Favorites!


      Ingredients for Parathas
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
¾ tsp salt
2 ½  tbsps. Melted butter
¾ cup water

        Ingredients for Ground Beef Filling
½ pound ground beef
1 clove garlic chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp chilli powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

-      Stir together flours and salt.
-      Mix in the butter.
-      Stir in water to make a soft dough.  Knead well.
-      Cover and let rest for an hour.
-      Pan fry the ground beef with all the other ingredients until the meat is cooked.  Set aside to cool.  Filling should be cold before use.
-      Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
-      Roll out each piece into a very thin pancake.
-      Divide the filling equally among only 4 of the pancakes.
-      Cover each pancake with another one, sealing edges with a little milk.
-      Pour oil into a large frying pan to the depth of one-quarter inch and put on high heat.
-      Fry parathas on both sides until crisp and brown.

For a light, but very satisfying meal, serve with a salad and beer (or an Indian tea).  It’s like having an Indian Calzone!

 at Man Mandir Palace in Madhya Pradesh

 built from 1486-1516 A.D.

(All the pictures taken in India are Ruzie's.)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Cold outside . . .Warm Inside . . . JALAPENO POTATOES


Snow steadily falling; third day now.

The woods are magical.

Vesper loves it.

And here’s the
perfect menu to warm us up inside:
Tarragon Chicken Breasts
Tomato, Spinach, and Peanut Butter Stew
Jalapeno Fries

I should blog the whole thing – it was that good!  But hey, for now:

JALAPENO POTATOES:  (Prepare early in day and reheat)
        From Chatelaine Magazine, February, 2012
4 medium yellow potatoes
2 green onions
1 large jalapeno
2 tbsp oil.
¼ tsp salt

1.     Seed and dice the jalapeno finely.  Set aside.
2.     Chop the green onions.
3.     Boil salted water in a medium pot, filled to just over one-third.
4.     Peel and cut potatoes into one-half inch sticks.  Drop into cold water as you go or they will blacken.
5.     When all the potatoes are ready, drain and boil 5 minutes.
6.     Drain well and pat dry.
7.     Heat oil in large frying pan over medium high heat.
8.     Fry potatoes about 10 minutes.
9.     Add onions, jalapeno, and ¼ tsp salt.
10.                          Cook 3 minutes. 
11.                          Set aside until 45 minutes before serving.  Now, preheat oven to 350.
12.                          Put potatoes in, uncovered,  for 30 minutes.


P.S.  The potatoes were great the next day, too, and the spinach was delicious inside and outside and omelette.  

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

                                                           Bean there!

Now, we’re back home, and I'm missing Nicole and Kepler . . . and I’ve still got nursery rhymes on the brain.   It’s nowhere near as cold as Chicago, but it snowed yesterday and it's snowing this morning -- great, fat flakes.
                            The book I’m reading fits right in.  J 

We had a lovely evening last night.  Bryan made an early 20th century cocktail called Bamboo and we also came up with a good dinner menu:

Marta Pisetska Farley’s BEEF TONGUE with Garlic Mayonnaise

Nigella’s Green beans with Pistachio Pesto

Nigella’s Gnocchi Gratin

and, best of all,

        From:  Chatelaine Magazine, March 2013

2 small to medium eggplants (or 4 baby eggplants, if you can find them)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
½ small red onion, thinly sliced (Nigella calls for whole onion, but it's too much)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp coarse salt
¼ cup olive oil
4 ½ tsp cold water
1 garlic clove, minced

1.      Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2.     Slice eggplants into 1 inch thick pieces lengthwise .  (Just cut baby eggplants in half lengthwise.)
3.     Combine olive oil with dried oregano in a baking sheet.
4.     Rub one cut side of eggplants in oil.  Then set them in the pan oiled side up.
5.     Bake for 20 minutes until tender.
6.     Combine onion, vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Let stand 10 min.
7.     Remove onion.  Whisk oil and water into vinegar.  Add garlic.  Return onions
8.     Transfer eggplants to a serving platter.  Pour onion dressing over eggplant.

9.     Serve immediately or,  Nigella's way,  at room temperature.   Or reheat. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014


 Brunch at SABLE KITCHEN & BAR began with delicious complimentary Devilled Eggs with Truffle Oil!  

Following this, a 20 minute walk to the MUSEUM of CONTEMPORARY ART was absolutely necessary. J  Kepler has proved a real trooper – never complaining about the cold. 

And Nicole remarked that Bryan seemed to feel right at home. 

                       Thank you, Chicago  – we had a great time!

Friday, 21 February 2014


Breakfast at Panera 

Lunch at Rick Bayliss’ restaurant, TOPOLO:
a Margarita and Ceviche Appetizer followed by, for me, a Soft Mushroom Taco with Guacamole and Beans: Delicioso!

Shedd Aquarium:  So many amazing fishes, including seahorses!  and the strange little jellyfish below.

Dinner at PUBLICAN:  
The menu was very interesting and the dishes are made to be shared.  The Veggie List offered an intriguing choice -- Grilled Sunchokes;  they were done nicely, I think, but weren’t particularly interesting to taste.  Our other choices were more successful.  We loved the sauce on the tender, grilled squid.  And the beef tongue and the duck hearts surprised us because they were served rare instead of well-done.  

The dish that made this dinner exceptional, however, was Sea Urchin.  It was orange with a soft, creamy texture – and, as Nicole said, nothing you have ever tasted is anything like it. 

                                   Kepler thought it was all dreamy.

Drinks at THE VIOLET HOUR capped off our fun Valentine's day.  J

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Excellent coffee and Almond Croissant at the Intelligentsia Café

Anish Kapoor’s famous BEAN

THE ART INSTITUE of CHICAGO:  “one of the premier” art museums in the U.S.

Lunch at the Art Institute:  I had the pasta with Nebrodini mushrooms :  most amazing chunky mushrooms!   And outside, it was snowing.

We had to try the famous Chicago Deep Dish Pizza so, for dinner, we went to Giardano’s – it did not disappoint. J  
The crust was so buttery, I downed 2 enormous pieces! 

In the evening, Bryan and Nicole took the subway to the “state of the art” United Center which, apparently, disturbed a police officer who yelled at them to “Go back to the suburbs.”

 Nevertheless, the intrepid Canadians enjoyed seeing the Chicago Bulls win against the Brooklyn Nets

 and returned downtown, once again, via the subway. 

Meanwhile, Kepler and I enjoyed reading a book sent to him by his great-aunt Diana.   
                  Kepler's enjoyment of books is so delightful!