Monday, June 28, 2010

Salad days

I was recently at a small family event.  You know the type I mean, the ones you go to through familial obligations, in addition to the knowledge  that the person hosting it is kind-hearted.  Hostess served coldcuts, potato salad and cole slaw from the deli section at her local grocery store, a green salad.  Then she placed four bottles of salad dressings on the table.

Maybe you do too.  If so, may I encourage you to try something else?

Easy vinaigrette:

One part red or white wine or balsamic vinegar.
Salt, pepper, dry mustard, dried tarragon to taste.
Optional: fresh tarragon, thyme, parsley, basil.

Six parts olive oil.   Add everything in a jelly jar (or in our case, a glass peanut butter jar)
Screw the lid back on.  Shake.  Instant dressing.

My current favorite:

In above mentioned jar add a dollop of Dijon, a teaspoon to a tablespoon.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar (about a third of the amount of mustard).  Stir with a fork until well-blended.  Add salt, pepper, more tarragon.  While mixing in with a fork, add four parts olive oil.  Fabulous.

Craving blue cheese?  
Salt and pepper a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in your salad bowl.  Mash 4 ounces of blue cheese into it, and a quarter cup, or more, of your favorite olive oil.  Add greens and mix.
Trust me, between these three you should never have to buy the bottled stuff again.

You're welcome.  And your guests will thank you. (Especially if that guest is me).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dear Restless Des:

I am growing tomatillos for the first time ever. The plant I picked up on a whim has taken off and is loaded with blossoms.

I've never cooked with them. Ideas?
                                                                           -- super savvy

Super easy, chica--remove the papery skin, boil until soft, drain.  In a small skillet pan roast a few cloves of garlic, until the skin is dark.  Remove skin. In a blender, add cooked tomatillos, charred garlic, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar and a slice of onion, now blend.  You now have a raw green salsa.  Once blended, you can also cook it down in a skillet slicked with a little bit of oil.  There!
I'd serve it with quesadillas.  Top your fish tacos.  Or, if you're ambitious, use it for your enchilada sauce.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Alligators

Poetry Corner

Alligator Pie

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some I don't know what I'll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup.

--Dennis Lee

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alligator Pears

According to this article Jamaicans started the name, an approximation of the Aztec ahaucatl

I love a perfectly ripe avocado, don't you?  For those of you counting calories it is perhaps a bit too rich, for those of you cutting out carbs, or blissfully oblivious, it's just right.

We've mentioned guacamole before; I also like slivers of avocado with a little salt or crema, or sandwiched between sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.  Slather them on your blts, sprinkle in your Caesar salads.  Another great recipe from The City cookbook simply mashes them with equal parts goat cheese, ready to spread on crackers or baguette.  Yum!

Monday, June 14, 2010

All about hidden treasures

Don't you love secrets? I do.  I can't wait to repeat them.  In fact, I blab them all here, as soon as I'm able.   And it occurred to me I had not shared with starving, faithful readers a secret ingredient: Knorr's bouillon.  Look, I know Child, David, Keller, Bourdaine and Hazan will all scold and cajole and wheedle and browbeat you into using homemade stock/broth/boiled bones.  But let's get with the 21st century.  In other words, it's not gonna happen.  Risottos, arroz, paella,  trust me, this instant stuff will do the trick...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bali Hai

"South Pacific" has hit the Music Center to wide and critical acclaim.  What, can't pop for the Gold Star discounted tickets?  Dontcha worry, I got a recipe that will get you there, fast.

Makes one Mai Tai:
one shot dark rum
one shot coconut rum
1/2 cup pineapple/orange juice
a splash of grenadine for color.

Pour over crushed ice in a tall glass, garnish with pineapple spear, a maraschino cherry, or a cocktail umbrella.  A coupla these and you'll be humming "Bali Hai" all night long.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Count down

Fan Girl.  Complete and utter.  I picked up a copy of Lee Child's first Reacher novel Killing Floor years back when he appeared in the flesh at a So Cal Mystery Writer's convention.  That was when I developed my addiction.

The past couple of years he's appeared at Vroman's, and I've done my good duty by paying full price for the hardcover (and in the process, being able to chat with him for about 30 seconds, and getting my name scrawled in his handwriting).  Sigh. Those were the days.  Now, apparently he's spurned Pasadena, and I, long after I should have, have added my name to the long book request list at the library.  Although the novel's been out since May, and the library's got 20 copies of it, it's been sloooow making its way to me.  Today my copy is in transit to my chosen library, and I can't wait.  So it's time to stock up on provisions, because once I get it in my hands, I'm not moving!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Demand two things: dessert and champagne.

My kid, my daughter, my first born, is graduating from high school.  This passing of time is like a torrent rushing by me more than anything else. And so, to alleviate the bittersweet, to sweep away, or at least aside, the sorrow, I will serve bottles of bubbly and three of her favorite desserts : lemon pudding, cocoa cake and mud pie.

Perhaps just a little more sugar to keep away the salty tears---

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Full disclosure:  not my photo!  Click it and it will take you to its source...

 The other day I made a winning Greek salad.   A delightful side dish, refreshing and satisfying with its crunchy cucumber, its contrast against the feta cheese, olives, and a brightly ripe tomato. It got me thinking about Greece, modern and ancient, and the texts I studied long ago, penned by Plato.

Since then, the philosopher known as Cratylus has fascinated me.   A man so moved by the inability of language to communicate that he stopped talking completely.  To me, it seems, trying to communicate by gestures alone might prove even more frustrating.  But what silenced him?  A companion who just didn't get it?   Continuous rejections by editors and publishers?  The agora?  Or his own inchoate, inarticulate self, with its inability to live up to his own expectations?

I dunno.  But here's a recipe for you to chew on:

Peel a firm cucumber, then slice and quarter.  Dice a ripe tomato or two, depending upon your preference.  Add a tablespoon or two of pitted kalamata olives (you might even slice or halve them) a handful of diced or crumbled feta cheese.  Drizzle olive oil sunkissed from the Mediterranean, and scatter coarse salt to taste.  Mix gently, and enjoy in companionable silence.