I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happiness Is On The Menu

My mother the queen of onions has been in her glory these past couple of weeks. The nursing home has added a few new items to their dinner menu and two of them contain pearl onions. My mother said that one night she got some type of beef burgundy with pearl onions and the other day they had put some caramelized pearl onions in her green beans. It may not sound like much to you and I but to her it’s the world. This morning she called me to tell me that last night they served her chicken cacciatore and it was delicious, she is all giddy. It’s actually quite cute to see the amount happiness something as simple as a menu change can bring.

Roasted Pearl Onions

1 pound of fresh or frozen tiny pearl onions
1 tbsp. sugar
Salt & pepper

Drain onions and place in baking pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and sugar, dot generously with butter. Bake in a 450 degree oven, turn occasionally until browned (12 to 15 minutes).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Too Pooped To Pucker

Is anybody out there getting enough sleep these days? I know that I definitely am not and it really does start to take a toll. I find that I am spending more and more of my time trying to find ways to boost my energy. I do exercise but that does not last the entire day, sometimes you just need some type of quick fix that will get you through the rest of the day that doesn’t come with any jail time lol!

Here is a quick and easy pick me up that is great to take with you when you are on the go.

Instant Energy

1/3 c. honey
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. non-fat dry milk (whey protein)

Mix honey and peanut butter in a bowl. Stir in non-fat dry milk, a little at a time, until thoroughly blended. Shape into narrow roll. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm. Cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap in cellophane, makes about a half a pound.

May also shape into balls and roll in chopped peanuts, wheat germ, granola or cereal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Broken Yolks

For the last few Saturdays my grandmother has taken to making bacon and eggs for our breakfast get together. The bacon is all fried before we get there and the freshly baked corn muffins are waiting in the warmth of the oven. Upon our arrival she puts the water on for coffee and breaks the eggs into the hot pan. With her 89 year old arthritic hands she gently moves the eggs back and forth trying not to disturb the yolk. The perfect yolk has always given her a great sense of pride when serving her loved ones breakfast. All was going well until she went to put the eggs in the dish, her hand shook a little and two of the yolks broke. My grandmother was so upset that she ruined the yolks. I said don’t worry Meema, that is actually just the way we like them, they are perfect.
When someone puts that much love into preparing food for you even if it is as simple as a little fried egg how could it not be perfect.

Since bacon and eggs really do not require much of a recipe perse, here is an Asian twist that I think you will all enjoy.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of rice
6 pieces of bacon
3 or 4 eggs
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped onion
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. soy sauce

Bring water to a boil and add rice, cook for 30 minutes. While waiting for the rice to boil fry the bacon and save 1/2 of the grease to fry the rice in. Scramble eggs in bowl, add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, add 2 tablespoons of water to eggs and mix well. Fry egg mixture like a pancake. Fry rice; add chopped onion, chopped bacon and catsup. Cut up egg omelet and add to rice. Mix in soy sauce and serve.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Basil In The Breeze

If you look out on my grandmother’s patio you will see three huge pots just blooming with basil. The plants really do look beautiful and they emit the most intoxicating aroma with each passing breeze. With each and every sniff we start craving things like; pesto, eggplant parmesan or fresh marinara. Maybe we should have just stuck with roses and tulips it would be much easier on the waistline……who am I kidding, give me basil and fresh herbs any day. Here is a quick salad with very bold flavors that tastes even better the next day. We like to serve this salad over a bed of mixed salad greens.

Salami and Provolone Salad

4 oz. of sharp or domestic Provolone cut into chunks
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese cut into chunks
3/4 cup of fresh basil, lightly chopped
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
6 oz. sliced Genoa or Sweet Sopressata Salami
4 tomatoes, cut bite size
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
Mixed Greens, optional

Mix oil, vinegar and shallots and pour over other ingredients. Make sure everything is mixed well and serve.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Grandma Lisser's Kitchen

This recipe belonged to my little Russian Grandmother all 4’ 6” of her. I wish I had the pleasure of spending time with her but unfortunately she passed before I was born. Luckily for me, my mother kept Grandma Lisser very much alive for me by sharing stories and some of the specialties of this wonderful woman’s kitchen. We are still trying to recreate her carrot cookies, we are getting close but without a recipe it is a lot of trial and error. All we have is my mother’s memory of how they looked, smelled and tasted. As soon as we get it right I will post and share with everyone. Until then, here is a recipe for Grandma's Blintz’s which managed to make its way through the family over these many years.

Blueberry Blintzes

1 cup of all purpose flour
2 lg. eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp. of salt

Place all 4 ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes.
To cook crepes, heat an 8" crepe pan and butter it lightly. Add just enough batter to coat the bottom of the hot pan with a thin layer. Cook until just set and lightly golden. Flip or turn and cook second side until light golden. Turn onto a dinner plate and cook remaining crepes.

1 1/2 cups of cottage cheese
1 lg. egg, beaten
2 tbsp. of sugar
1/ 2 tsp. of cinnamon
1 cup of fresh blueberries or substitute fruit of your choice
2 tbsp. of fresh bread crumbs (to absorb excess moisture)
2 tbsp. of butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, optional

Drain the cottage cheese and press through a sieve. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, sugar and cinnamon. Gently stir in 3/4 cup of the berries, if the mixture is runny; carefully stir in the bread crumbs.
Place a spoonful of filling on the crepe, fold in the ends and roll up. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a non stick skillet and sauté the blintzes until golden, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and top with the remaining blueberries.
This recipe will make 6 to 8 servings

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Memory is a Bit Shaky!

The drink may have originated in New Orleans but for this girls palate it originated in San Francisco back in 1982. My mother and I had planned a trip to visit family in California and a friend of mine who was born and raised in China Town San Francisco
suggested a few must try, must see things for our itinerary. One of the places that my friend Doris highly recommended was; “The Saloon” on Grant Street in North Beach, CA
She said not only are they known for their Ramos Fizz’s but it is one of the few buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake. It was fascinating being there, you could still see the cracks and seizures in the walls. The Ramos Fizz was wonderful, the addition of orange flower water and egg whites had a significant effect on the flavor and texture of the drink as compared with a regular Gin Fizz.
If you are worried about the safety of using a raw egg white you may substitute the powdered egg whites that are used for baking.

San Francisco Ramos Fizz

1 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2, 3, or 4 drops of orange flower water
White of 1 egg
1 shot glass of gin
2 shot glasses of cream
2 shot glasses of seltzer water
1/2 glass crushed ice

Shake well and strain into a tall glass, enjoy.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Cool Cookies

This has got to be one of the easiest cookie recipes ever with each batch turning out perfectly light and moist. What I like is the variety of flavors that you can make given all the new cake mix flavors that keep popping up. I have done these using the lemon cake mix and they were wonderful, I added a little lemon zest for an added burst of flavor.

Cool Whip Cookies
1 egg
1 box cake mix, any flavor, any brand
1- 4 ounce container of Cool Whip

Blend dry cake mix with Cool Whip; beat in 1 egg and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes until set, do not over bake.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One Persons "Latkes" is Another Persons "Kugelis"

I just tried one of the most amazing side dishes called; Kugelis. It is a Lithuanian recipe for creamy potato pudding casserole. It is rich, and creamy a very comforting addition to the family meal. When I saw that they traditionally served their Kugelis with apple sauce or sour cream it reminded me of the Latkes that I had growing up.


5 Russet potatoes, grated
3 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbsp. cream of wheat or flour
2 slices bacon, diced
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 cup of milk

Fry diced bacon until cooked; then remove from skillet and cook onions in the drippings until soft, add bacon, onions and drippings to grated potatoes stir in eggs, salt, pepper and cream of wheat and milk. Mix well and pour into greased 1-quart baking dish.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 1/2 hour then lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking another 1/2 hour until top is nice and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Traditionally Kugelis is eaten with apple sauce, sour cream, or crumbled fried fat (bacon or pork belly) if there are any leftovers, slice and fry the next day.

Photo courtesy of Cizauskas/flickr

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tennis Tea, Anyone?

The talk seemed to revolve around the tennis match at the nursing home on Saturday. The woman that lives in the room next to my mother said that she had an aunt who use to make this ice tea that they actually called; Tennis Tea. No one seems to know how it got that name but the tennis match conjured up the memory and the recipe.

Tennis Tea

10 tea bags, preferrably a black tea such as Lipton but any tea will do
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 small can of frozen lemonade
1 small can of frozen orange juice

Brew water with tea bags for approximately 15 minutes, mix sugar, lemonade and orange juice with tea. Pour into a gallon container and fill with water.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Have it With the Works This Fourth of July

We have always loved that hot sauce that many hot dog and hamburger joints offer as one of their toppings. That rich red sauce with the tender little bits of hamburger, onions, peppers and spices that they pour over your sandwich. Well, my uncle and cousin liked it so much that they started making their own and is it ever good.

This sauce freezes really well so make a double batch and have plenty on hand for all your summer grilling.

Hot Dog and Hamburger Chili Sauce
1 pound of ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 beef bouillon cubes crushed
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
3 1/2 c. water

In a big pot brown hamburger and mash fine add rest of ingredients and simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 hours. The longer it simmers the more it will reduce and concentrate the flavors.
Check every now and then and give it a stir.