Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spiced wine to wind down the old year

Whether you gather with celebrating hordes, a few good friends or yourself and a significant other, New Year's Eve is a special night. A combination of nostalgia and sadness for the year that's ending and elation over the new, fresh and promising one arriving in its wake.

Something to warm the cockles of your heart is definitely called for and we suggest this spiced wine recipe from our e-friends Ashley and Jason Bartner at La Tavola Marche, Italy.

Spiced Wine

1 liter red wine
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
a few cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
a bit of nutmeg
1 lemon peel grated (or 1/2 lemon, 1/2 orange peel)

Bring wine, spices and grated peel to a low boil. Add sugar and stir over a low flame until dissolved. Filter or strain and serve warm.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

May whatever you celebrate this time of year be glorious and may the new year bring us all peace, health, happiness and many new destinations with memorable flavors plus a return visit to one or two old favorites.

Happy holidays and trails!


Monday, December 21, 2009

A is for Awesome Apple Pie from Euphemia Haye

Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key is memorable on all counts - " the stuff dreams are made of" according to the New York Times, one of America's 200 most romantic restaurants (Dining by Candlelight), among the top 1 percent in the nation (Zagat and, once again, a Golden Spoon Hall of Fame award from Florida Trend magazine.

Obviously, Chef/Proprietor Raymond Arpke and wife D'Arcy have cooked and cobbled together a memorable, destination-worthy restaurant, but for my money and laurels, Euphemia Haye's upstairs dessert bar is the answer to a sweet tooth's prayer. Never have I  seen such delectable desserts or had such a hard time choosing just one. Portions are huge so you can share, but it's common to see diners jealously guarding their selections from curious table mates.

The Apple Walnut Crumble Pie is Chef Ray's signature offering and star of his cookbook, You don't have to be crazy, but it helps! Recipes and Rantings of a madman.

Here's the recipe to tide you over until you can visit in person.

Apple Walnut Crumble Pie  

One 10-inch pie shell
2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water
Put cake flour, butter and salt in a stainless steel bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into flour until it all has a mealy consistency. Add ice water and mix with your fingers to form a dough. Form into a ball, flatten with your hands and place on a well-floured flat surface. Flour the top of the dough well and roll out into about a 13-14-inch round. Place the dough into a floured 10-inch pie pan and flute the edges.

Crumble Topping
11/2 lb. soft butter
1/2 lb sugar
1 lb cake flour
vanilla to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixer with the paddle in place and mix at low speed until "crumbles" form. Cool and reserve.

Apple walnut filling
12 cups (3 pounds) of 1/-inch apple slices
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash each ground nutmeg, clove, ginger and allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 TBS flour
Place prepared apples in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle walnuts, spices and sugar over the top. Toss apple mixture and mix well. Add flour and toss well. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes. Toss well again. Mound the apple mixture in the pie shell. Top with crumble so they are completely covered. Bake at 350 degrees for 70-80 minutes until baked through and browned evenly. If crumble topping is browning too fast, cover with foil until almost done.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Velvet Cake - as colorful as the season

Red Velvet cakes are the pride of many a Southern cook's Christmas bounty. It's  hard to imagine any other dessert that matches the Christmas decor as well.

Nancy Hamilton in Fort Myers, FL, shared this signature version from the popular and equally colorful Captiva Island restaurant, The Bubble Room. (If you doubt that, check out their website, www.bubbleroomrestaurant.com.)

The Bubble Room Restaurant Red Velvet Cake

3 3/4 cup self-rising flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cocoa
2 1/4 cup Sterling oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 oz. red food coloring

Mix all ingredients together and pour into three (3) 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

16 oz. cream cheese
12 oz butter
2 boxes 4X sugar
3 cups pecans

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth then add sugar and mix. When ready, add pecans.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lighter chef, lighter fare

At the age of 10, Steven Jamison was a whiz at making cheesecakes; a few years later he was selling them. By 2007, he realized his profession and his passion - cooking - was killing him . After three months of fad diets, he reformed his life and eating styles.

Today the former Floridian, executive chef at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, prepares health-conscious, locally sourced "Southern Evolution" fare. An internship at Disney's EPCOT added worldwide influences and the result is in the menus for the hotel's two restaurants, banquets and conventions.

Here's a recipe Chef Jamison shared with us.

Chef Fit Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Tacos

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 ears of corn (corn cut from the cob)
1 16-oz can black beans
1 bunch cilantro (chopped fine)
1 bunch scallion (chopped fine)
2 heads butter lettuce
1 red onion
2 limes
1 can chipotle pepper in adobo
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 16 oz can chicken stock
6 roma tomatoes (ripe)
2 avocados
1 oz olive oil
To Taste – Salt and Pepper

The Chicken:
In a mixing bowl marinate the chicken breast for one hour with adobo sauce and one minced chipotle pepper, 2 cloves garlic, juice of half a lime, salt and pepper.
On a low grill cook chicken to a internal temperature of 1650 F, brushing with the marinade half way through cooking.
Allow the chicken to rest five minutes before cutting.
Dice into small cubes and hold warm until served.

The Salsa:
Coat four roma tomatoes, two cloves garlic and half a red onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place on a sheet pan and roast in a 500 F oven until the tomatoes begin to char.
Place ingredients from the sheet pan along with two chipotle peppers, juice of half a lime, half of the cilantro and half of the scallion in a blender and blend until pureed
Add blanched corn and store in a bowl until ready to serve.

The Black Beans:
In a sauce pot slowly simmer one can black beans, one can chicken stock, two diced roma tomatoes and one quarter red onion diced.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the liquid has reduced till almost dry remove from the heat and put aside.

The Avocado:
Dice the avocado into a bowl and mix with the juice of half a lime, one quarter red onion finely diced and the rest of the cilantro and scallions.
Store in bowl with the avocado seed.

To Serve
Wash and remove eight outer leaves from the butter lettuce.
In each leaf put 2 ounces of black beans, 2 ounces grilled chicken, one tablespoon of avocado mixture and one tablespoon salsa.

Serves 4.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Woodside Mansion Brunch Specialties

 Is the cost of Christmas giving you the entertaining Bah humbugs? Reconsider your timing. It's less expensive to entertain at midday than at dinner time.

Garth Woodside Mansion in Hannibal, MO, was home to childhood friends of Mark Twain, that fast-quipping, quintessential American whose birth 175 years ago and death 100 years ago we will celebrate in 2010.

Today it's a bed and breakfast praised for its fabulous food, filled with Twain memorabilia and voted by Bed & Breakfast Travelers 4th best in the U. S. and No 1 in Missouri two years in a row.

"With everyone watching budgets these days a great way to entertain on a less costly basis is to serve a Brunch," said frequent traveler Mary Jane Kolassa who has shared recipes made famous by this venerable Victorian Inn.

Chili Rellenos Quiche

10 eggs, beaten                                        
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 (4-ounce cans) chopped green chilies         
1 pint cottage cheese
4 cups grated Cheddar or Jack Cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the ingredients together in the order they are listed here. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean.  Yield: 10-12 servings.

Garth Mansion’s Famous Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips               2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans                                   1 TBS organic cinnamon

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour                              1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 tsp EACH: baking soda and powder             3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature       1 large egg
1 1/3 cups very ripe bananas (about 3 large)      3 tablespoons buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan.
Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; this is your streusel, set aside.
Sift all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and egg in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in bananas and the buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.
Spread half of batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack.

Garth Granola

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

6 cups old fashioned rolled oatmeal              1 cup raw, chopped, pecans
3/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds          1/2 cup raw, sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ                          1/2 tsp salt

Mix together & set aside.

Mix next and add to dry:     
3/4 cup safflower oil                                      1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey (or real maple syrup)               1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark brown sugar                              1/2 tsp lecithin

Mix all together and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for two hours. During the last 15 minutes add 1/2 cup chopped dates and when all finished add 1 cup or more raisins.  Turn it when it is cooling.  Store in plastic bags or airtight container.  Optional: Add some cinnamon or maybe some coconut.

   Vanilla Cranberry Muffins or Coffee Cake

1/4 cup dry instant vanilla pudding mix                1  cup white sugar
3/4 cup water                                                        1/4 cup butter
1 cup fresh cranberries                                          1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract                                               1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder                                   1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 TBS butter or margarine, melted                          3 TBS white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium saucepan, combine pudding mix, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Add butter and cranberries, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and cranberries pop. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Stir in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to cranberry mixture; stir to blend. Place in greased 8x4-inch pan or muffin tin, smoothing top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until coffee cake/muffins test done.  Cool 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.

Topping: Brush top of loaf/muffins with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Quality vs. quantity

With the Thanksgiving feast making its way to our midsections, I decided a recipe from French Executive Chef Michael Pieton, menu mastermind at Arizona's Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, would be most appropriate.

After all that excess, a small dish where flavor satisfies is what the dietitian ordered. We can thank Chef Michael's mother in Normandy for the skill to produce that. This is one of the most popular dishes at the resort and The Golden Door.

Crab and Avocado Tower
Serves 4

4 slices smoked salmon
1 avocado, finely diced and soaked in the juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup light sour cream
3 TBS chives, finely chopped
4 tsp. caviar
salt & pepper
Combine crab, sour cream and chives; season to taste. Place 3 oz crab meat mixture in the bottom of a ring mold. Top with a slice of smoked salmon and press down firmly. Top with the diced avocado, garnish with caviar and cilantro leaves. Squeeze avocado sauce around the plate.

Avocado Sauce
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 avocado
1 serrano chile
handful of spinach leaves
2 TBS cilantro
2 mint leaves
1 cup chicken stock
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper
Saute garlic and shallot until softened. Place this and all other ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Season to taste and add to plate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet staff of life

If bread is the staff of life, Bread Pudding has to be the comfort food crown. There are as many recipes for this classic as there are grandmothers and mothers. And a big thank-you to them all.

Especially Mama Kay, the grandmother of Justin Pfeilsticker, executive chef at Trader Vic's at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

As Chef Justin writes, "My grandmother Mama Kay was the Southern chef in the family. She grew up in Jackson, Miss., before moving to Arizona. I remember her making a bread pudding with like a praline on top of it."

Sad but familiar tale, he loved the bread pudding but never got the recipe because she cooked from her heart and never wrote them down (oh, for a recipe for my Nanny's gumdrop cake). When he opened his first restaurant, Cafe 181, in Chandler, Chef was determined to recreate her bread pudding.

"I now believe I came up with a close replica ... but of course it's never the same as Grandma's."

Put your heart in it and this version maybe come one of your family's favorite flavor memories.

Justin's Bread Pudding

2 cups sugar
5 beaten eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups cubed Italian bread
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/4 lb softened butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Prehat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13" x 9" by 2" deep pan.
Mix together sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, milk and cream in a bowl then pour mixture over bread in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, butter and pecans.
Spread bread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the top and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Pour sauce over a piece and top with vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup rum
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter, cubed
In a small sauce pot simmer rum and reduce by half. Add brown sugar and salt and cook until sugar dissolves. Add butter slowly until incorporated but don't let it boil.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Out of Your Gourd

Executive Chef Urs Balmer, who brings his Swiss heritage of fine cuisine to the
Sheraton Universal in Los Angeles, has been treating diners to a pumpkin-inspired seasonal menu this fall.

His lasts through Dec. 19, but you can prepare these dishes year-round.

Pumpkin Raviolis with Squash Ratatouille
Serves 6

2 oz. shallots, chopped
1 oz. garlic, chopped
2 oz. brown sugar
4 oz. butter
4 lbs. pumpkin meat, diced
1 qt. chicken stock
Heavy cream, Panko breading
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Saute the shallots, garlic and pumpkin in butter, sprinkle with the sugar and let it caramelize.
Add chicken stock and let it simmer on low heat until liquid is evaporated.
Blend the mixture in a food processor. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Add some cream and Panko breading to get the right consistency.

Won Ton wrappers
egg wash

Place 1-1.5 oz. of the mixture on a won ton wrapper. Egg wash the sides and cover with another won ton wrapper. Press sides together and cut into a round shape.

Boil the raviolis for 3 minutes, place on a plate and garnish with the squash ratatouille.

Drizzle with sage brown butter.

Sage Brown Butter

8 oz. butter
30 fresh sage leaves
Melt butter until golden brown, add the sage leaves and saute until they become crispy.

Squash Ratatouille

2 oz. shallots, chopped
1 oz. garlic, chopped
8 oz. yellow squash, finely diced
8 oz. zucchini, finely diced
8 oz. tomatoes, peeled and finely diced
Saute all ingredients in butter; season with salt and pepper.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Cream Fraiche and Chives

Serves 6

2 medium butternut squash
1 oz. garlic, diced
4 oz. shallots, diced
1  medium carrot, diced
1 medium leek, white part only, diced
1 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
Sour cream

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Place on a sheet pan brushed with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool and scrape the meat out.

Saute the garlic, shallots, carrot and leek in butter on low heat. Add the squash meat, white wine and chicken stock and simmer for 40 minutes.

Puree in a blender and strain. Add the cream and boil for 10 minutes.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Garnish with sour cream and chives.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cazuela - Drink Healthy

Sailors and pirates would have found this the perfect way to avoid scurvy.

The Saturday night I dined at El Parian in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico, three to four mariachi bands were circulating at all times in the huge restaurant. I found  Cazuela the perfect way to deflect the dissonant sounds of dueling bands.

It is traditionally served in soup bowl-sized vessels with a straw

El Parian Cazuela

 For each person, include
 2 oz Tequila   
1 dash Salt   
1 slice Lime   
1 slice Grapefruit   
1 slice Lemon   
1 slice Orange   
1 tsp Grenadine   

Squirt and mineral water

 For each slice of fruit, squeeze in another slice or two worth of its juice into pitcher or the traditional, large shallow clay bowl each person gets. Fill serving glass or bowl with salt, tequila, grenadine and fruit slices. Fill to top to taste with Squirt, a bit of mineral water and/or more tequila. Add wide straw and serve.

This is a good drink to serve at family gatherings where children are included. Make a big pitcher full without tequila and let the adults add liquor to taste.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Italian Comfort Food

Ah, Italia. Have its residents ever cooked anything that wasn't delicioso?

You can do it, too, thanks to Ashley Bartner who, with her husband, Chef Jason,  own the popular La Tavola Marche Agriturismo and Cooking School in Piobbico. They shared a pair of their wonderful recipes.

Stuffed Tomatoes
Pomodori Ripieni

serves 4

4 ripe round tomatoes (about the size of a tennis ball)
4 TBS rice
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
clove of garlic, skin removed
herbs of your choice, I use basil or parsley
olive oil
salt & pepper

Wash your tomatoes & slice off the tops; with a spoon, hollow out the flesh of the the tomato being careful not to pierce the cup you are making.

Save the pulp & juice, pass through a food mill or give it a turn in the food processor, blender, etc.

In a small pot, brown 1 clove of garlic in a glug of olive oil.

Remove & discard.

Then on low heat, slowly sauté your onion until it is translucent - approximately 10 minutes.

Add in your rice & sauté for 1 minute, then raise heat & add tomato pulp.

Season with salt & pepper.

Bring to a low simmer for a minute or two. Remove from heat and add in herbs.

NOTE: If you are using a different rice other than long grain white rice, you will need to par-cook the rice first, for example brown rice, wild rice, etc.
Also this is where you can be creative. Incorporate shrimp with the onions or a little ground veal or sausage if you like; also veggies work great too.

Spoon mixture into cups of tomatoes and replace the tops of the tomatoes.

Bake in a casserole dish with a little olive oil rubbed on the bottom at 375 F/ 190 C for 20-30 minutes.

When the rice is cooked and the tomatoes have started to split it’s done.

Serve hot warm or cold with a drizzle good olive oil atop.

Stuffed Eggplant

Says Ashley: "Oh these are goooood! Just like a little mini quiche tucked into nice little eggplant 'shells' just beggin' to be eaten!  This is a great go-to recipe for a dinner party or when you want to make a few dishes a bit earlier since it's served at room temp. Also a hearty fill for the vegetarians out there (not that there are any in Italy!)."

Serves 4

4 eggplants
3 Tbs olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 red or green bell peppers, halved, seeded & chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbs Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt & pepper

Halve the eggplants lengthwise & scoop out the flesh without piercing the ‘shells’.

Chop the flesh & save the shells.

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until soft. 

Add the chopped eggplant flesh, celery, bell peppers and tomatoes, season with salt & pepper and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. 

Remove the pan from the heat & stir in the eggs.  Fill the eggplant shells with the mixture and place in the prepared dish.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until golden & bubbling!

Remove from the oven and let cool.
Serve cold/at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anything but Ordinary Chips

Potato chips are not what come to mind when you walk into the elegant Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL, but Executive Chef Steve Schoembs prepares an appetizer of them that more than matches the facility in taste.

A look at Chef Steve's bio gives you the how and why. The Palm Coast native's resume includes the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY; cooking with French master Roger Verge in Mougins; absorbing the culture and flavors of Heidelberg, Germany; cooking in Hawaii and running his own restaurant and catering business.

His Bleu Chips are favorite appetizers at Hammock Beach.

Bleu Chips

Potato Chips
8 Russet potatoes
soybean oil

Slice potatoes thin on a slicer or mandolin, fry in soybean oil at 350 degrees until crisp and golden brown.

Buttermilk Dressing
1  11-oz log of goat cheese
2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1 TBS black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup finely cut chives
bleu cheese
basil, finely cut, for garnish

Mix all ingredients except chives in food processor until pureed. Remove then add chives.
Top a generous portion of potato chips with some of the buttermilk dressing and some crumbled bleu cheese. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Garnish with finely cut basil and serve.

Watch them disappear.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quick Appetizer a la Hacienda el Carmen

We were a batch of hot, tired travelers who had flown to Guadalajara, Mexico from Canada, California, D. C. and Florida among other places via one to three planes (starting as early as 3 a.m.) then had ridden through afternoon rush hours traffic on what should have been a 45-minute drive to reach Hacienda el Carmen.

Assembling under the shade of the outdoor arcade for dinner, we were a motley crew more than ready for a bath and bed.

No one from the kitchen spoke much English, we were too tired to dredge up much Spanish so when we understood the word "avocado" in relation to the appetizer, that was what we selected.

Served cold, vaguely familiar and refreshing, the dish was a hit.

The next morning - refreshed and ready to go

When I later asked Chef Manuel Rodriguez how it was prepared, his answer surprised me with its simplicity.

Easy Appetizer from Hacienda el Carmen

1-2 fresh avocados, cubed or sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 can hearts of palms, drained
1/4 bell pepper, minced
2 cups ketchup
1 cup white wine

Mix ketchup and wine, pour over avocados, palm hearts and pepper. Serve cold in appetizer-sized glasses.

I've since tried this at home but fearing ketchup would be too sweet, used V-8 juice instead. Next time I'll use ketchup and mix in wine to taste.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blue Bicycle: Sophisticated Cuisine in Thunder Road Country

The Blue Bicycle, a chic bistro in Dawsonville. GA., is one of that area's many surprises. Between the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, Forest Hills Resort, the great folk art gallery Around Back at Rockys Place and the Kangaroo Conservation Center, there's lots for travelers to do in Dawson County.

I capped a recent visit there with lunch at Blue Bicycle where I was fascinated with the stories of Kati Owen and her husband, chef supreme Guy.

Thanks to Kathy Witt and to Marty Williams at the Dawson County Convention & Visitors Bureau for talking Guy into sharing this recipe.                             

                                                                                                                                                 Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

6 each 1 lb Berkshire pork shanks (fresh not smoked!)
Salt and white pepper
½ cup flour for dredging
½ cup peanut oil for frying

2/3 cup (1 medium) yellow onion diced fine
1/3 cup (1 medium) carrot diced fine
1/3 cup (1 rib) celery diced fine
2 to 3 cloves garlic minced very fine
¼ tsp red chili flakes or more to taste

½ cup dry white wine
1 – 28 oz. can Italian-style tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
Zest of one-half of a lemon
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ tsp dry
1 sprig fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dry
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 10-inch fry pan over medium high heat with the peanut oil to frying temperature (350 degrees F).  Season the shanks with salt and pepper and dust them lightly with flour.  Gently place half the shanks into the oil.  Do not over crowd the pan; you can do them in two or three batches if necessary.  Brown them on all sides and then remove them to a separate oven-proof pan or casserole large enough to hold all the ribs plus the liquid.  I use a turkey roaster for this.

Once all the shanks have been browned reduce the heat to medium and pour off all but about two tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown; scrape loose any brown bits that may have stuck to the pan.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for another minute.

Add the wine and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the wine to half of its original volume and then add the tomatoes, lemon zest, chicken stock, and herbs. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.  Remember that the sauce will reduce some during cooking and will intensify the flavor as it reduces.  You can add more salt and pepper at the end so don’t over season at this point.

When the sauce comes to a full boil carefully pour it over the shanks.  There should be enough sauce to come about half way up the sides of the meat; it should not cover it completely.  Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil and place in the pre-heated oven and cook for three hours.

After three hours remove from the oven and check for tenderness.  Meat should be falling from the bone at this point.  Remove the shanks to a warm platter and hold.  Remove the herb stems and bay leaf from the sauce then reduce by about one-half.  Check seasoning and return the shanks to the sauce.  Hold in a warm place.


1-½ cups yellow polenta (grits)
6-8 cups chicken stock
Salt and white pepper to taste (about 1 ½ tsps.
2 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
1 TBS sweet butter

In a 2-quart sauce pot heat the stock to a boil then slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook the polenta at a moderate heat until thickened.  If it becomes too thick or is not tender, add a little hot water and continue to cook until satisfied with the consistency.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese then the butter.

½ bunch Italian parsley, de-stemmed
Grated zest of ½ lemon
1 small clove garlic

Combine everything in the bowl of a food processor and pulse process for 30 seconds.

To serve: Portion the polenta into 6 pasta bowls.  Top each with a pork shank, divide the sauce among the 6 bowls and top with plenty of gremolata.   Serve broccoli rabe, broccolini or spinach on the side

For information on Dawson County, contact Marty at 1-877-302-92711, m.williams@dawson.org.
For information on The Blue Bicycle, go to www.bluebicycle.net.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Favorite Flavor from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

For three generations, the women of Mercedes Arteaga Tovar's family have lovingly prepared Chiles en Nogada.

There are many versions of this specialty of the San Miguel de Allende area. This one, however, is served at Mercedes' beautiful Restaurante Bugumbilia in San Miguel.

I and a small group of other Society of American Travel Writers members were blown away by the dish when we dined there in mid October.

I E-mailed Mercedes on the off chance that she would share the recipe and she graciously agreed.

As she said, "I am like you, when I taste the Chiles en Nogada; my mouth is full of happiness and sweet water-like joy. Of course, and with pleasure I give to you the recipe of my version of Chiles en Nogada. I mean very clear, it is my version, and my mother's and my grandmother's version."

Bugumbilia Chiles en Nogada


1 Tbs. oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds tomato puree
1 cup of sliced pecans
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of raisins
½ cup of chopped citron
1 stick cinnamon
Salt, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, cloves, black pepper, sweet peppercorns and sugar to taste.

The filling can be made one day ahead:

1. Place oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the tomato puree, raisins, almonds, pecans and citron. Cook for another 15 minutes.

3. Season with all the herbs, spices, salt and pepper. At last add the sugar.

4. Cook for another 10 minutes.


8 Poblano Chiles
Oil for frying
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 small onion
1 garlic head
Fine herbs

1. Make a small cut in the chiles and deep fry them in oil until blistered.

2. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes to steam.

3. Peel the chiles. Cut a slit down one side and remove the seeds and large veins.

4. Place the vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, onion, garlic and herbs in a large pot of warm water.

Let marinate for a least 12 hours or overnight.

Cream topping:

8 cups sour cream                 
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chopped pecans
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pomegranate seeds
shredded lettuce
10 radishes

1. Beat the topping ingredients, except for the radishes and pomegranate seeds.


Stuff each chile with a sufficient amount of the filling. Place on a platter covered with shredded lettuce and radishes. Top with the cream mixture. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serve, sit back and share the compliments Mercedes Arteaga Tovar, her mother and grandmother have received for generations.

Because it can be served warm, tepid, room temp or cold, Chiles en Nogada is a perfect, make ahead luncheon or dinner party dish. Add some bread, a desert and you're done.

Note: This is the first of several posts that will feature recipes from Mexico and the wonderful chefs I recently encountered there.

I'd love to get your favorites too. Do you have another, preferred version of Chiles en Nogada? Send it in and I'll post it. Have you eaten something else wonderful in Mexico? The food there is nothing like the Mexican food we tend to get in the U.S.A.

Oh, and for more posts on traveling through the state of Jalisco, go to my other blog,  Travel on the Level.

 Look forward to hearing from you!


Monday, October 19, 2009

More Sweets from the Big Easy

Gourmet Kristi Casey Sanders, editorial director and chief storyteller for Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing, found this "Famous Praline Recipe" from The New Orleans School of Cooking and Louisiana General Store while cleaning out her desk.
"I love pralines. The first time I was in New Orleans, when I was 19, I ate at least one, sometimes as many as three every day with my friend Megaton Matt. We couldn't stop trying them."

These were her favorites and now you, too, can try them.

New Orleans School of Cooking and Louisiana General Store Pralines

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp. butter (3/4 stick)
1 1/2 cup pecans (roasted is optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients and bring to a "softball stage" *(238-240 degrees), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture.
Spoon out on buttered waxed paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. When using waxed paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath.
* When you place a spoonful into a glass of water, it sticks to the side.

To roast pecans, bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Praline sauce (add 1/2 cup corn syrup to mixture)
Chocolate covered praline candy
Flavored Pralines (chocolate, coffee, brandy, etc.)

Louisiana General Store: 524 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70810

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remembering New Orleans

Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular are foodie havens where it's easier to find a remarkable meal than to find a bad one.

Friend and frequent traveler Janis Noe of Marysville, WA, was reminiscing about a trip to the Big Easy and shared a favorite experience.

After spending all day eating our way around New Orleans and planning to turn in early, we found ourselves in front of Arnaud's at 5 p.m. and not very hungry.  I insisted on going inside for Bananas Foster.
  The restaurant was empty.  As my husband and I crossed the foyer toward the tuxedo-ed Maitre d' I felt a little intimidated.  My husband asked if we could just order dessert and he looked at us as if we were very strange, but after the slightest hesitation he snapped, "Why NOT?"  
  He led us into the empty and cavernous main dining room (which I understand from guide books is reserved for tourists), seated us, introduced us to our waiter and we enjoyed the fabulous show that followed.
  The recipe will get you the Bananas Foster, but in order to enjoy the full spectacle of the Arnaud's presentation you'll have to take a pinch of cinnamon and rub it between your fingers, releasing it a little at a time high over a flame so it sparkles as it catches fire on the way to your plate.  It wouldn't hurt to wear a tuxedo while you're doing it.

Bananas Foster
4 TBS butter                                          4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise then halved
4 scoops vanilla ice cream                     1/2 TBS cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar                                4 TBS banana liqueur
1/4 cup of rum
Melt butter in a flambe pan over an alcohol burner. Add the sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur and stir to mix. Heat for a few minutes then place the bananas in the sauce and saute until soft. Add the rum and allow it to heat, then tip the pan so that the flame causes the flame to ignite. (You can do the same thing over Sterno or on the stove top, lighting with a match, if you must.)

Allow the flame to die out, tipping the pan with a circular motion to prolong the flaming. Serve over vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beer Lovers' Salmon

Juneau, the starting or stopping port for a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage, is also home of the Alaskan Brewing Co. Their brewmasters have pleased many a tourist from the lower 48 and inspired many a cook with their Alaskan flavored recipes for beer lovers.

During a tour of the facility a number of years ago, I left with some of those recipes as well as an appreciation for Alaskan Amber. However, because Alaskans keep it to themselves, we have to substitute. Make-do with any other well-brewed amber beer, but do put the real thing and the spectacular state that inspired it on your bucket list.

Alaskan Amber Glazed Salmon
1/4 cup amber beer                              4 TBS butter
2 TBS honey                                          2 TBS brown sugar
1TBS lemon juice                                   1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp ground cumin                               1 tsp lemon pepper
Splash of liquid smoke

2 lbs fresh wild salmon or halibut

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and cool. May be made in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to use.

Coat fish with glaze and grill over medium heat or broil, basting frequently. Watch closely to prevent burning. Cooking time depends on the type of fish and its thickness.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Recipe supplied by Tom West, production assistant

For information on Alaskan Brewing Co. and more beery recipes, go to www.alaskanbeer.com.
For information on Juneau, go to www.traveljuneau.com.
For my feature story on cruising the Inside Passage, go to www.WellsWords.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Pot Wonder: Low Country Boil

Country doesn't get much lower than Georgia's back barrier islands and you won't find a better Low Country Boil than Cap'n Andy's Eagle Island version.

Andy's bankers may know him as owner of Private Islands of Georgia, the organization that offers travelers the unique, your-own-private-island experience. Many guests on Eagle Island, one of those exclusive getaways 15 minutes by boat from the port of Darien, know Andy as a dedicated and talented connoisseur of regional cuisine.

Book an island escape and if you like, Andy will stock your kitchen with the necessary ingredients. If you really want to escape from responsibility, you can order the classic dish done for you by Andy and his crew.

I'm one of those fortunate former guests and prevailed upon him to share.

Private Islands of Georgia Cajun Low Country Boil
Fill a large - and I mean large - pot with water, leaving room to accommodate the food without boiling over.

Add to boiling water:

Private Islands Seasoning Blend
2 sticks of butter                                          1 cup pepper
1/2 cup red pepper                                       1/2 cup seasoning salt
1 cup garlic salt                                            1/2 cup celery salt
10 lemons, halved and juiced                       10 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
Melt butter in large sauce pan on low to medium heat. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir with a wire whisk. Pour ingredients into melted butter and stir with whisk until well blended.  Pour juice into pan and stir. Add jalapeno slices and stir. Add mixture to boiling water.
Note: You can substitute Old Bay Seasoning if you must.

Now it's time to add the ingredients, beginning with those that require the most cooking time.
16 new potatoes - 2 per person or more (See note below). Rutabagas and sweet potatoes are also good, instead of or in addition to the potatoes.
8 onions peeled - 1 per person or more (see note below)
1 small bag baby carrots
2 packages Hillshire Farm sausage cut into 1-inch slices
4 ears of corn, halved - 1/2 ear per person
4 pounds of shrimp - 1/2-pound per person
Add potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Add the carrots, sausage and whole onions, return to boil. Add corn and return to boil. Add shrimp last, cooking until they are pink in color. Do NOT overcook the shrimp.
Strain and serve.

Extras: Cocktail sauce, lemon wedges and plenty of napkins.

Note: Outdoor gas cookers are typically used but a large pot on the range can also work. Adding extra potatoes and onions gives you the makings for great hash browns the next morning.

As you see, if you can boil water, cut up stuff, stir and keep time, you can prepare this regional favorite.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Colorful Curacao Treat

It's hard to believe but the now color blind, integrated city of Willemstad, Curacao, was where freshly captured West Africans arrived after their arduous trip across the oceans. After being rested and fed, they were sent to one of the island's plantations to be "trained" to be slaves.

If the slaves were lucky, they could snag the rind after their Dutch owners had eaten the cheese (in the days before refrigeration or plastic wrap the rind was kept intact). The story is that this dish developed to use up what scraps of cheese or cheese flavor remained by black slaves and poorer whites.

When served at the Avila Hotel, it becomes a gourmet treat. Even better, one easily and inexpensively recreated at home.  Many thanks to travel writer and Caribbean specialist Lynne Sullivan,www.islandgecko.com, who shared that memorable lunch at Avila and found her copy of the recipe when I couldn't.                                                 

Avila Hotel Keshi Yena
Chicken filling: Rub 1/4-pound of chicken breast and 1/4-pound of chicken thighs with the juice of several limes. Season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and onion then allow to marinate several hours before browning in 3 TBS of butter.

Place browned chicken into a heavy pot with
1 qt water                                                 1 tsp salt
6 peppercorns                                           1 medium onion
1 stalk celery, with leaves                          1 bay leaf, bruised
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender. Strain and reserve the broth. Discard vegetables. Debone chicken and set aside.

Saute in 2 TBS of butter:
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped                1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced                                 salt and pepper
1 TBS minced parsley and/or a few drops of Tabasco sauce

Add in and stir well:
1 TBS ketchup                                             1/2 TBS capers
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed olives, sliced        1/4 cup raisins
1 TBS piccalilli                                              chicken

Simmer until tomatoes are reduced, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Generously butter 4 soup cups then cover sides and bottoms with sliced cheese, preferably Edam although any yellow cheese will do. Fill with chicken mixture and top with a slice of cheese. Put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of a pot, place cups in pot, cover pot and steam for about 15 minutes.

Traditionally, this chicken dish was prepared and served in the shell of an Edam cheese rind after baking in an oven or steaming in the top of a double boiler. If you do it this way the red wax must be removed from the empty shell after it has been soaked in hot water.
For a more dramatic-looking version, the filled Edam, with red wax intact, is tied in a cheesecloth and suspended in boiling water for 20 minutes, The wax melts away in the hot water, leaving a delicate pink blush on the cheese.
Whatever method you use, beef can be substituted for the chicken.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Sauces a la Blue

During a recent trip to Flagler Beach, an old-fashioned beach community on the East Coast of Florida between Palm Coast and Daytona Beach, with a giggle (a gaggle would have been  a bigger group) of travel writers, we dined on some exceptional food.

All of us fell in love with Chef Gary Maresca and his wife, Kelli O'Reilly, who run Blue, a divine restaurant in the downstairs of Topaz Hotel, maybe a mile south of the Flagler Beach Pier. Gary, who's been working in food since the age of 12, developed his culinary chops working at Riverview in Oakdale, Long Island; the Daily Grill in Los Angeles; and Ruth's Chris in Beverly Hills.

I talked him into sharing two recipes for sauces so full of flavor that, in the words of Paul Prudhomme, "They dance in your mouth."

Note: Both are on the spicy side so go slow adding the hot stuff and season to your taste.

Wasabi Encrusted Oysters
1 lb. butter softened to room temperature                  1/2 cup wasabi powder
1/2 cup horseradish                                                    3/4 cup honey
2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Combine butter, wasabi and horseradish and blend well with your hands. Add honey and bread crumbs and combine until it forms a paste.
Shuck oysters and top with wasabi butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with a little minced red pepper and green onion then serve.

Store unused topping refrigerated for up to two weeks while you see what other foods it enhances (I'm thinking maybe as breading for shrimp).
Note: Gary originated this sauce as a crusty coating for salmon; the idea of adding a little Asian fusion to an existing recipe came to him in a dream, he said.

Mango Chili Garlic Glaze

2 cups diced mango (1/2-inch dice)                   1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar                                                         2 TBS fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups water, separated                                1/2 cup corn starch
2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine sugar and vinegar in a sauce pot on high heat until sugar is dissolved. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 cup of water.
While that mixture comes to a boil, combine 1/2 cup water with corn starch to create a slurry, add to sauce pot and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and glaze meat.
 Note: This is spicy and sweet - "The meat has the flavor, the sauce has the heat," said Gary, who uses this on duck but I can think of other meats - like pork or game - it would jazz up.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah is famous for its food, rated among the "Top Spa Cuisine" in Destination Spas by Conde Nast in 2007.

I was there a number of years ago and can confirm that rating. No one ever felt deprived. Satisfied, yes. Deprived, no.

You can go to their web site, www.redmountainspa.com, click on "recipe of the month" and pull up a whole list of options.

I had several favorites but most contained ingredients that are hard to find in your average grocery store. Here is one that doesn't.

Vegetarian Chili

1/2 eggplant, peeled and diced                  1/4 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced                                        1/3 tsp garlic, minced
3/4 green bell pepper, minced                   14 oz. canned tomatoes
10 oz. red ripe tomatoes                            2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/3 tsp cumin powder                             1 1/3 tsp oregano powder
1 1/3 tsp basil powder                               2/3 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt                                     2/3 tsp fennel seed
3 1/2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped fine         1/2 cup pinto or anasazi beans, cooked
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, canned                1 3/4 tsp fresh dill, chopped
2 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Peel and dice eggplant. Place in a sieve or perforated pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let stand for 1 hour and dry.
Preheat a soup pot and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
Saute eggplant, onions, garlic and green pepper until tender.
Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently.
The yield is about 6 cups or 12 servings of 1/2 cup for a total of 47 calories.

Few of us would be satisfied with such a small portion but here's the trick. Steam a cored red pepper per person. Cut off the top, scoop in 1/2 cup of the veggie chili and the combination will be plenty. Especially if you serve with a few low cal crackers or chips and a big low-cal salad then follow with a low-cal dessert.

If only we all had a spa chef in the kitchen .....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jazzy Snapper

Chef Aaron Webb recently showed a group of travel writers how he prepares his signature snapper. It's by far the most popular dish in the wildly popular Sunday Brunch at the Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach.

It isn't nearly as hard as it looks either.

Casa Marina Diced Snapper
Chef looks for 10-12-pounders but you can use whatever size snapper you need or want. (Don't expect leftovers whatever size you prepare.) The fresh fish should be gutted and cleaned with its side fins snipped off, something a good fish monger can do for you.

Cutting all the way down to the center bone and avoiding the other bones as you would in a fillet, slice across the fish in one direction, then score in another to produce a checkerboard effect. Turn the fish over and repeat. I didn't really need to add use a very sharp knife, did I?

Seasoning is a cinch. Chef Aaron changes it up each Sunday, but when he did it for us he used a combination of granulated garlic, cumin, fresh dill, finely ground pepper and a touch of oil-based Thai chili sauce.

Rub your mixture inside the slices until the fish is thoroughly seasoned.

Spray a baking pan with fat-free oil, then stuff bunched up aluminum foil in the belly of the fish so it sits up as if swimming across the pan. Baste the fish with olive oil and bake it until the meat is almost flaking. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes to finish cooking as you garnish.

Voila - a stunning presentation. The small, delicious squares of fish easily come away from the bones, which soon is all that you'll have left.

We were at the Casa Marina for a first hand look at how its weddings and receptions come together so of course we had to try the deep pink drink they created. Here it is.

Wedding Cake Martini
4 oz. Stoli Vanilla                                     2 oz. DiSaronno
Splash of pineapple juice                          Dash of Grenadine

Shake well with crushed ice, strain and serve in a martini glass with sugared rim. Mazel tov!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cuisine a la Cruise

Eating is a large part of any cruise and many ships' kitchens have made feeding fabulous fare to masses of people an art form.

Princess Lines' Corporate Chef Alfredo Marzi, for example. I was fortunate to have met this talented man aboard one of the early Mediterranean cruises of the just christened Emerald Princess. Not only did he feed us superbly, he gave me an autographed copy of Courses: A Culinary Journey, a gorgeous book featuring favorite recipes from the lines' itineraries.

I want to share with you two recipes from it, one an unusual eggplant parmigiana from the Mediterranean, the other a yummy chilled fruit soup served during cruises along the coasts of Canada and New England.

Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 6
Note: Preparing the sauce ahead of time makes this relatively quick and easy. Eggplant can be sliced or stacked if you prefer.
Tips: To peel tomatoes easily, cut a small "x"  in the bottom (opposite stem end) of each and place in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove, place in ice water to stop the cooking and the skin will slip right off.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil                                              8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or good quality canned ones
2 cups onion, small dice                                  2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped                           1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper                                                1 tsp butter, cold
Heat olive oil gently in a heavy stock pot, saute onions and garlic until translucent. Increase the heat, add chopped tomatoes and sugar. Stir often to allow for evaporation and prevent burning for about 10 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. If preparing ahead of time, stop here.

6 medium Long Tom or any other kind of eggplant
1 cup mozzarella, shredded                             3/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
olive oil for frying                                             2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper                                                fresh basil leaves
Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices keeping them connected at the stem end. Salt generously and let sit for 15 minutes to draw out moisture. Rinse off salt and pat eggplant dry with a paper towel.
Heat oil in a saute pan with the garlic cloves to season the oil. Cook eggplant until tender and nicely browned on each side. Form them into fans as they cook.
Preheat broiler. Place eggplant fans on baking tray, season with salt and pepper and top with cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted and brown.
Meanwhile, cook tomato sauce 3 more minutes until hot, stir in the cold butter and pour onto plates. Arrange eggplant on top and garnish with basil leaves.

Chilled Golden Delicious Apple and Peach Soup
Serves 6
Tips: To peel fresh peaches easily, cut small "x" at the bottom, place in boiling water for1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove, place in cold water and pull skin off with a small knife. To keep apples from turning brown either squeeze juice from 1 lemon into 2 cups of water or fill a bowl with orange juice. Put apple pieces in the liquid as you cut them.

2 cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup apple juice or cider                                    2 cups peaches, peeled
1/2 cup orange juice                                           1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups fresh cream                                              1 TBS honey
1/2 cup dark rum                                                cinnamon

2 Golden Delicious apples                                   2 peaches, peeled and diced
fresh mint
Puree the apples with the apple juice in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. Separately blend peaches and orange juice until smooth. Reserve a small bit of peach puree for garnish.
Combine the remaining peach puree, apple puree, yogurt, cream, honey and rum. Mix well and season lightly with cinnamon and nutmeg. Refrigerate well.
Serve soup in a chilled bowl, garnishing with diced apples and peaches, mint leaf and drops of peach puree.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Serious Southern Comfort

The 1842 Inn is an elegant, truly historic, four-star, four-diamond hostelry in the beautiful Southern city of Macon, GA. Approaching it along a street of antebellum homes then sitting by the fireplace for a relaxing cocktail, you feel as if you have been transported to a more gracious time.

When you taste this libation, served in an icy cold silver julep cup, you'll be glad you are in the here and now.

1842 Inn Mint Julep
Mint                                                          Simple syrup
1 1/2 jigger of Southern Comfort             1/2 jigger of amber rum
 Angostura Bitters

Simple syrup: Boil a handful of mint until it turns brown and strain through a piece of cheesecloth. Use one full cup of sugar for every quart of liquid. Stir until sugar dissolves.
Julep: Fill mint julep cup or glass with ice, preferably crushed. Pour in the Southern comfort and rum and fill the cup with the simple syrup. Ad two drops Angostura aromatic bitters. Stir and garnish with a large sprig of mint.

For information on the 1842 Inn, go to www.1842inn.com.
For information on Macon, go to www.visitmacon.org.
To read my post on Macon for Levelers (travelers who prefer or need less strenuous walking and fewer stairs), go to www.travelonthelevel.blogspot.com.