Everyday Gourmet

Everyday Gourmet
We've got a whisk, and we know how to use it!

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Visit to Some Painted Churches


.Labor Day is not a great weekend to travel in Texas. The weather is hot, the traffic is heavy, and many restaurants are closed. However, all the stars were aligned for travel. The destination was some of the Painted Churches in south central Texas. Having heard of them for several years, three friends and I set out on THAT Monday to see them.  We took a scenic tour of Bell County, and on a country road saw twenty or more hawks circling and feeding in a field where a farmer was plowing. They were eating insects and worms. I could not identify them--perhaps Swainson's Hawks. Exciting for an old birder.
We spent the night at Brendan's Bed & Breakfast in La Grange; we met our guide for the tour at the Chamber of Commerce in Schulenburg for the tour of five beautiful churches in Fayetteville County. Our guide, Wanda, was informed and had a personal connection to the Painted Churches since she had been married in one of them. We toured the churches at High Hill, Dubina, Ammannsville, Moravia and St. John. On the way home we stopped at the Serbin Community to visit the The Wendish Heritage Museum and St. Paul's Luthern Church

If you have not done this short trip, I highly recommend taking a day or two to see them. According to some references there are twenty. I haven't found that many in any listing, but I will keep on searching.

For lunch we had some barbecue and German potato salad. Laced with vinegar, it cleared my sinuses. Potato Salad may be my favorite food.
Below find a recipe from www.whats4eats:


Southern region Potato Salad

Boiling potatoes--2 pounds
Hot beef or chicken broth--3/4 cup
Oil--1/3 cup
Onion chopped finely--1
Vinegar--1/4 cup
Brown or Dijon mustard--2 tablespoons
Sugar--1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives or parsley, chopped (optional)--1 to 2 tablespoons

1 Place the potatoes into a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by an inch or two. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to boil until the potatoes are cooked through and a sharp knife pierces them easily. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them if you like. Then cut the potatoes in half and then cut them into thick slices.  Put the potatoes in a large bowl and carefully stir in the hot broth and onions.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir this vinaigrette in the potatoes, along with the chopped chives or parsley.

4. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Add diced, cooked bacon if you like. Substitute bacon fat for some of the oil.
Coarsely shred a small head of Romaine or Iceberg lettuce and mix.
Add some chopped dill pickle and juice.

All of the churches have festivals. I wish I could go to all just to check out the types of potato salad that are served.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Did You Get the Number of the Truck?

"What truck?"
"The one that ran over me"

This was the exchange in our family when someone had a particularly difficult day, task, etc.

It is appropriate for the past week for Gourmet Gallery and me personally. Now, this is not a BAD thing. There are many good things!

Fifth anniversary celebration with 109 friends--GOOD

Number One grandson graduating with a Master of Information Systems Degree--GOOD

A three-day holiday to West Texas to be with family to celebrate a ninetieth birthday--GOOD
(We missed the planned party, but made it for the after-party parties. Such great family time for us.)

There were a few small towns on our itinerary. What fun we had exploring in Clifton on the way there, and Roby, Anson, Abilene (not so small, but one of our former hometowns), Buffalo Gap, Cisco, Eastland, and Cranfills Gap and St. Olaf's Lutheran Church on the way back.

Perini's Steakhouse is in Buffalo Gap. We didn't get to have any of their famous steaks, but enjoyed some of the other foods--a one/half pound hamburger, fried quail legs, and some of the best hominy I've tasted.

This recipe from "Texas Cowboy Cooking", p.148:

Jessica's Favorite Green Chile Hominy

1 cup chopped onion, sautéed
4 15-ounce cans white hominy (drain and reserve)
1/2 cup hominy liquid
1 tablespoon juice from pickled jalapeños
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
10 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped (reserve drippings)
1 cup chopped green chiles
1-2 pickled jalapeños, seeded and chopped (optional)

Sauté the onions in a little of the bacon drippings and put aside. Heat hominy in a separate sauté pan, stirring often. When heated thoroughly, add the hominy liquid and jalapeño juice, bring back to a high temperature and add 3/4 of the cheese. When the cheese melts, add half the peppers and bacon and all the onion. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and peppers. (At this point it can be refrigerated or even frozen, if you want to make it in advance.) Bake at 325 degrees F. Until cheese on top melts, about. 15 minutes ( or 40 minutes, if refrigerated.)
Serves 10 to 12.

And what truck was th

Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Am I in Texas When There Are Cooler Places?

This is the time of the year-- EVERY YEAR--that I ask myself that question. I suppose the answer is that I haven't gone some other place. The secret to being as comfortable as possible for me is to stay as cool as possible and drink as much liquid as possible. Water , of course, is the logical choice, and it is a good choice. However, our gourmet world offers many options. Below find a couple of drinks that can be made at home--with a little help from Gourmet Gallery.


1) In a blender, combine 1/2 package of Wine-a-Rita mix (3/4 cup) with12 fluid ounces of wine or champagne and blend until mixed.

2) Fill blender with ice and mix until smooth.

Makes 12-6 ounce servings.



Brew 1quart of Sterling Earl Grey Lavender Tea. (2tablespoons loose tea in 1qt. hot water [185-205F] . Let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea leaves and chill.

2 cups simple syrup. (Bring 2 cups sugar and one cup water to a boil stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Chill.)

Combine tea and simple syrup in a pitcher and add 1-1/2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir. Add ice and one or two sliced lemons.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Fig Tree, the Birds and the Squirrels

My fig tree is as tall as the storage house at the back of the lot. It is as big as the storage house. I can only
reach about 7 feet to pick the large, luscious figs that are beginning to ripen to their sweetest. I COULD get a tall ladder and move it a few feet at a time around the tree to pick the figs. (.Don't tell.)

I devised a plan for harvesting those figs. I was willing to get in and around the first seven or so feet of the tree and pick those plump figs. And I was willing to let the wildlife have the figs in the top half of the tree. In my nicest voice I have made that fact known to the birds, squirrels and any other creatures that want to have a treat. Have they accepted my invitation--my reasonable plan. NO!!!! With unmitigated gall they have been in MY part of the tree, and not only that, they are eating figs that are not completely ripe--just barely turning color. How rude when I was and am so willing to share!!!!!. 

However, if I can get sneak enough from the birds, etc., or if they have a change of heart, I am going to make the following recipe:


l Baguette, sliced
4 ounces goat cheese
Fresh figs, sliced
Honey for drizzling.

Toast the baguette slices.
Spread with about 2 teaspoons  or so of the goat cheese.
Place 1 sliced fig on each slice.
Drizzle with honey, to taste.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Try this with a Pinot Noir, if you like a red, or a Sauvignon Blanc if you prefer white. I also found a "fizzy" Portuguese white that will be nice with this recipe.
Let me know what you think of the wine choices, please.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Source--"Cook's Illustrated"

Entering the retail world of food has been a education for me. Even though I was a Homemaking teacher  when there were such animals and a wife and mother for even longer, so many new ideas, food and nutrition facts and new methods have appeared since then that I have had to really be alert to all things new. Among  the many magazines that pass through our doors, a stand-out is COOK'S ILLUSTRATED. In fact, it is our go-to for equipment recommendations, methods of cooking and their cookbook THE AMERICA' S TEST KITCHEN FAMILY COOKBOOK published by America's Test Kitchen is the book we recommend for new cooks who need a starter course in cooking and baking.

COOK'S ILLUSTRATED comes bi-monthly and has a plethora of information about food preparation, pots and pans, food products--too much to cover here. There are 32 items in the contents. One of them is for frying eggs. I know, I know! Who doesn't know how to fry 'em, and eggs are not that good for you. What about cholesterol? I eat them and I will continue to do so.

Pointers for the perfect fried egg, borrowed from August, 2013, COOK'S ILLUSTRATED, pp.12-13.

Preheat the pan for 5 minutes over low heat.
Use two fats--vegetable oil while the pan is heating and butter added just before the eggs.
Add eggs all at once. Cracking into small bowls and adding to skillet allows them cook at the same rate.
Turn heat to medium-high.
Cover as soon as the eggs are in place. Allow to cook 1 minute.
Remove from heat.
Wait 15 to 45 seconds.

Ready to serve.
(I have a glass saucepan lid that fits for 8 inch skillet; so, I don't have to let heat out to check.)
Now, for a strip of bacon, toasted English muffins and a little orange marmalade.

Perfect breakfast--or dinner.
BTW we have both AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN FAMILY COOKBOOK and the current issue of COOK'S ILLUSTRATED available at Gourmet Gallery.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Summertime Favorite, or Who Doesn't Love Peach Cobbler?

Peach cobbler always meant making a double pie crust, lining the pan with half and rolling a top crust. I still like it that way, but my niece sent me a recipe that is a hurry-up recipe that is so delicious that I usually make it that way.I have found several similar recipes, but they all require more steps than Lora's recipe. Here it is:

                               ( Luscious peaches. Watch at Farmers' Market. Probably will be the best)


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

 Place 1/2 cup butter in 9X13X2 baking pan and put pan in oven to melt butter. When melted, remove from oven. Set aside.

Mix together:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Add 1 cup "sweet" milk

Pour into baking pan over the butter.

Add 1 quart of sweetened peaches evenly over the batter.

Place into oven and bake until golden brown--about 30 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

So quick. So easy. So-o-o-o-o-o-o good.

Any kind of peaches will work-- fresh, canned or frozen. I remembering reading that even the peaches that don't seem quite up to par will be wonderful in a cobbler.
Please enjoy this simple recipe.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Berries, Berries, Berries

In "the olden days" my school would dismiss mid-April so that the children could help with the crops--hoeing cotton, gathering tomatoes for the market. Not only was school out, but the berries were beginning to ripen. First, we had dewberries. There were bigger, sweeter than the mixed berries and blackberries that followed later in the spring. We picked and ate and took them home and washed them and ate them with milk, made cobblers, and jelly. (The blackberries made the best jam.) Sometimes Dad would come in from the farm with his hat full of berries--always enough for the cobbler. Mother had a special pan for that treat. I still have it--a little enamel off here and there, but it serves the that purpose.


Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust
l cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for topping
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 -5 cups fresh berries
4 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Heat oven to 350 F.

Roll out 1/2 the dough and line a 9" X 9" X 2" baking dish with it. Place a square of parchment paper cut to fit onto the dough. Blind bake the crust for about 8 minutes so that the bottom crust will not be soggy.
Turn oven up to 450 F.
Mix the flour and sugar thoroughly. Put berries on the blind baked crust. Add sugar/flour mixture and 3 tablespoons of the pieces of butter. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of water over the mixture.

Roll out other 1/2 of dough and place on top of berries folding the overlap under the bottom crust and pinch together so that the juice will remain inside the crust.* Make slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and place remainder of butter on the top.
Bake for 10 minutes at the higher temperature; then, reduce heat to 350 F and bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Cool a little if you possibly wait. Then, enjoy.

*To duplicate the cobbler below, roll out dough for top, cut into strips and weave over the top.
(Rachel can tell you how to do that.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back to an Old Favorite

On Memorial Day I made Cream Puffs. Remember those? Home Ec Class in high school? The lesson about leavening agents--that eggs and air and steam could make desserts rise, i.e. angel food cakes, sponge cakes, cream puffs, eclairs. According to FOOD LOVERS' COMPANION,  a cream  puff is also called choux pastry (shoo) pastry. Just in case you missed the lesson in Home Ec, during the baking, the eggs make the pastry puff into irregular domes. They are easy and fun. Not everyone in my family likes therm, but that's just fine. (The more for me idea.)

In case you cannot find the recipe, here is the Old One from JOY OF COOKING, 1952 edition.

"Please cease  to think of these as something to try out in your more adventurous moments. No need to shine up your rabbit's food--just have all ingredients at room temperature. But once the cream puffs are filled with, be sure that they are stored in a cool or refrigerated place, as they are subject to bacterial activity which maybe highly toxic and give no evidence of spoilage...."

Sift before measuring: 
     1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      1/2 cup milk or water
      1/4 cup butter
Bring these ingredients to the boiling point. Add the sifted flour:
      1/8 teaspoon salt
Cook and stir the batter until it leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove it from the heat. Beat in one at a time:
      2 eggs
Be careful to beat l egg until well blended before adding the other. Place spoonfuls of batter in 2 inch rounds on a greased tin*, heaping them well in the center.  Allow 2 inches between the puffs. In France the dough is chilled before being baked. Bake them in a hot oven 400 F for 1/2 hour. Reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake them 5 minutes longer. Test the puffs by removing one from the oven. If it does not fall it is thoroughly done. When the puffs are cool, cut a gash in the side of each puff and fill them with sweetened whipped cream  custard, etc.

The puffs were fun. Now I need to work on making a custard that is not lumpy!!!! However, Karyn's ice cream was good in them.
*An easier method--line a pan with parchment paper.

Friday, May 10, 2013

20 Bottles of Wine on the Wall, 20 Bottles of Wine. Take One Down and Pass it Around....

By Pure Luck I won twenty bottles of wine at the Kentucky Derby Party held at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and sponsored by the Lions' Club Foundation. This was a fund raiser for the Lions' Park that has been a place for kids to have fun for many years. Those Lions know how to give a party!!!!!

Now the question is, What to do with 20 bottles of wine? Drink some it. Yes. Share some of it. Definitely. Cook with some of it. Of course.

Drinking Some

With some Pinot Grigio or Chianti

Stuffed dates or figs:
12 dates, pitted, or 12 figs
2 to 3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
6 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an baking sheet with aluminum foil

Cut a lengthwise slit in the date/fig. Stuff each one with just enough cheese to fill the cavity, but not spill out. Pinch dates/figs closed. Wrap each date/fig in a piece of prosciutto and arrange them, seam side down, on the prepared pan.

Bake for  10 minutes. Remove the oven and, using tongs, carefully turn dates/figs. Return to the oven and bake until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature
(From Wine Bites--Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine. by Barbara Scott-Goodman.--Available at Gourmet Gallery.)

With some Cabernet Sauvignon: 

1 - 11 oz box of Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread Cookies from Wackym's Kitchen (Available at Gourmet Gallery)
Some softened butter
Some crumbled bleu or Gorganzolla cheese

Mix butter and cheese.
Place a little dab on each cookie. 
Enjoy with sips of wine.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rachel's BBQ Sliders and Jo Ann's Cole Slaw

In case you did not taste these sliders when Rachel made them, duplicate them in your kitchen.
Any questions? Call about recipes, ingredients or equipment at 254-399-.. Ask for Jo Ann.

Smoked Chicken BBQ Sliders
Makes 24 Sliders

2 lbs smoked chicken, shredded (Smoked on the Cameron Indoor Smoker)
1 cup Chef Bradley's Lean Mean BBQ Sauce

Combine the Chicken and BBQ Sauce in a medium saucepan. Heat to a slow simmer.

24 rolls or slider buns. (We used Rhodes Frozen Rolls and let rise and baked according to directions.)
Olive oil or butter

Preheat a grill or broiler on high heat. Brush each of the buns with olive oil or butter. Grill or broil for about 3 minutes.

2 cups Jo Ann's Slaw (See recipe below.)
Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced

To assemble:
Place cheese on bottom bun. Top with 1/4 cup chicken and some slaw. Serve immediately.

Jo Ann's Cole Slaw
(Borrowed from The Southern Junior League Cookbook  from years ago--with a little variation.)

1 medium red cabbage, shredded fine
1 small  white onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar (for an interesting variation, use apple-cider vinegar)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon salt

Place prepared cabbage, onion and carrot in a large bowl; top with sugar.
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, celery seed, and salt. Bring to a boil. Pour hot mixture over cabbage and cool. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter, Grandchildren and Fried Chicken

When Grandson requests fried chicken so that his international friend can experience it, what does Grandmother do? You know. of course. Buys whole chickens, cuts them so that there will be Pulley Bones (Some of you call them Wishbones.), gets out the cast iron skillet and gets cookin'.

Last year Bon Appetit , February Issue, printed "the only fried chicken recipe you will ever need." It's true. I'm changing it a little to suit my taste, but the method is essentially the best I've ever done. Granted, when I made fried chicken often, I never used a recipe, but, you know, one gets "out of practice."

If your family on a special occasion wants fried chicken, try this one.


2 T Kosher salt, divided
2 t plus 1 T freshly ground pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne (optional to me)
1/2 t paprika (optional to me)
1- 3 to 4 lb frying chicken, not Kosher, backbone and wingtips removed. (10 pieces)
(Tip: look for free-range chickens. The hormone enhanced ones have such large breast pieces that it is hard to get them done without getting them too brown.)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 T cornstarch
3 c all-purpose flour
Deep-fry thermometer
Oil for frying.

Whisk 1 T salt, 2 t black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season chicken pieces with the spices, put in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerator. (A ziplock bag works well for this.)

The next day l

et chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 T salt and remaining 1 T black pepper in a 9X13X2 baking dish. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl.

Pour oil into cast iron skillet to a depth of 3/4". Heat until 350 F. on thermometer.

Set a rack inside a large-rimmed baking sheet for placing the chicken after it has finished frying

Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture. Dredge in flour mixture. Place 5 pieces into skillet. Fry chicken turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes. Maintain a steady temperature of 300-325 degrees F. 10 minutes for wings, and 12 for thighs, legs and breasts. Transfer to rack. Let set for 10 minutes.

During that ten minutes I make the gravy. Be sure to make the gravy in the same cast iron skillet used for frying the chicken. Drain off extra oil leaving enough for making the roux. Use equal parts oil and flour. Stir in  flour and heat allowing the flour to a light brown. Add milk gradually and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Salt and pepper to taste.
What to say? This in not something that I cook every week, but once in a while this comfort food just seems to be a must--especially when requested by a Grandson.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Palm Sunday Excursion

Palm Sunday at San Jose Church
on the San Antonio Mission Trail

Several months ago some friends asked if I had ever been on the Mission Trail in San Antonio. My answer was, "No, but I would like to do that." This past weekend was my opportunity to do just that--with these friends as my guides. They are San Antonio "lovers" and have visited many times. So, they "know the ropes." That means, among other things, they know how to navigate the streets.

Since our "mission" was to visit the missions, we were set to do just that. Our first stop in the city was San Jose Church as shown in the picture. (It does not tilt. That's my inept picture taking.) At noonish this church has a Mariachi Mass. Although we did not get there for the entire service, we did hear the mariachi band and some of the hymns sung at the Mass. We did get to "Pass the Peace." After a tour of the grounds and some picture taking, we drove back into town to have our late lunch, early dinner at the El Mercado Restaurant, Mi Tierra. A brief wait for there was a crowd, but well-worth it. Good pork tacos with charro beans and guacamole. The flour tortillas were soft, almost fluffy, and served HOT. All the important things for a good Mexican meal including the margarita. PLUS my host had the guitarist play for us. Muy bueno!!!!!!

Our evening's entertainment was good conversation, good wine and the Lady Bears' Game.

On Monday we visited the Alamo and the other four missions. Each mission is different from the other--has its own charm and served its own purpose when established in the area. Each one still has its own congregation to serve. If you have not taken this tour that is not so far away, I recommend it. I hope that you can experience it with someone as knowledgeable as my friends!! Be sure to swing by Lockhart for some barbecue--it's the BBQ capital. Try Kreuz. My kind of barbecue--no sauce, but they have added a few sides. Not needed!!!

At the Alamo my relative's name has been taken off the wall for some renovation. However, I did find a family cookbook from Los Barrios Restaurant. This was named one of Esquire's top restaurants in America.(Didn't eat there this time, but next time.........)

Homemade Flour Tortillas 

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon powder
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup hot water, or as necessary

1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the shortening and hot water, mixing until a soft dough forms.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape into a ball (these are called testales). On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to a 6 inch circle.
3. Heat a griddle until hot. Place a tortilla on the griddle and cook until the bottom is slightly browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; the tortilla will puff up. Turn and cook until lightly browned in spots on the second side. Place in a towel-lined basket and cover with the towel to keep warm while you cook the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.

These will keep, well-wrapped, for 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer.

I'll let you know tomorrow if this is a good method.  The good homemade ones at Mi Tierra made we want to try it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


 If you can't get to all the Baylor Basketball Games-Go Baylor!!!!--have some good munchings on hand.
Wackym's Kitchen Gourmet Cookies are winners.

Try the Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread topped with just a tad of a softened butter-bleu cheese mixture. Just great paired with an Earl Grey Tea.

Double-dip Lemon Butter Cookies  dipped in some lemon, lime or raspberry curd. Lemon Velvet Tea goes nicely.

The unique Salted Caramel pairs nicely with Scotch----I hear.

The Margarita Cookie with--well, that's obvious.

And Chocolate Snicker Doodle  with some robust good, freshly brewed Coffee. Easy with the Keurig.

Easy tasting to follow any appetizers you've whipped -- popcorn, or dips, cheese balls, fruits--whatever you like.

Happy munching.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Shirley Ann Craigen West

Drove to Brownwood yesterday to say goodbye to Shirley West. She died on Sunday after a long stay in the hospital following surgery. Shirley had lived in Brownwood for 50 years, moving there with her husband, Kenneth, who was on the "Gordon Wood Coaching Staff." Listening to Richard Hetzel and Dallas Huston talking about her many talents and virtues, I reminisced about our years in Brownwood where football was king and you knew that in the fall when every Friday Night was spent going to a game, eating the peanuts that Homer and Guy Nell West (no relation) brought from their peanut farm, cheering on the home team, the band, the drill team.  Sometimes I wished that these things were not so important, but they were. Enjoying the excitement,  a winning team and the camaraderie of the community was a way of life there in the 70s. 

Shirley epitomized all of that. Her door was open to all. She feed, housed, loved all of those big, and not so big boys who played for the home team and all of us who made up the BISD family. Although it has been almost 30 years since I moved from there, I still felt something of that spirit, Shirley's spirit of love and caring, as her life was honored by those who love her dearly.

"Well, done, thou good and faithful servant. And she entered into the joy of her Lord."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


After all the search for Irish appetizer and writing about it and making the picture and posting, I did not use recipe. I decided to make "Mini Potato Bites" from the KRAFT FOODS website.

The recipe:

15 small red potatoes
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Boil potatoes until done, but not mushy. Cool slightly. Cut in half. Cut a little from the bottom of each half. Mix cheeses and sour cream. Place a dollop on each half. Sprinkle chives and crumbled bacon over each half. Can be served warm or cold.

Now here's what I did.  Did not find small red potatoes at the store; so, I bought a bag of fingerlings. Sorted and got enough for a double recipe. Cooked in salted water. These potatoes are an assortment; so, each kind cooked differently. The Yukons and the "pink" ones cooked just right. The baking and the dark ones were crumbly, but I used them all. Some of them did not need to have the little bit take off the bottom. They just sat up nicely. Of course, I used all the 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (Neu--the lower fat one), half a cup of low fat sour cream, 1/2 cup fresh parmesan that I grated myself and 1/2  cup grated cheddar from Ireland. Sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper. Followed directions and put the plate in the microwave and heated about 1 minute on high. Stayed warm enough for me to drive the 5 blocks to the party. Tasted good with the Guinness.

Mini Potato Bites=Big Hit!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I never thought I was Irish, but in the last year or so, I learned that my ancestor with the Scottish name immigrated here from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I guess that counts as Irish. In fact, my plans for the next big trip will be to Scotland and Ireland, That's another story.
In the meantime I've been invited to a St. Patrick's Day Party and I need to take an appetizer. I will find our trusty "500 appetizers" cookbook and begin my search.
 Voila! Or Faith, and I've Found It!!!

  Prociutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Mayo**

These sophisticated bites make and irresistible  nibble with apertifs or as a more formal appetizer. You can prepare everything ahead, then simply pop them in the oven when your guests arrive.

1/2 cup mayonnaise                                                      8 asparagus tips
Grated zest of 1 lemon                                                 8 wafer-thin slices prosciutto, cut in strips*
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice                                              Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tbsp. snipped fresh chives                                      Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest. juice and chives in a serving dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Wrap each asparagus tip in a strip of procuitto, arrange on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and roast for 6-7 minutes, until tender.

Transfer the prociutto-wrapped asparagus to a platter and serve with the lemon mayo.

I think I'll try some ham slices.  Seems a little more "Irish."

Happy eating on Saint Patrick's Day.
**Picture and recipe from 500 appetizers by Susannah Blake

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Break Thoughts

What is this Spring Break thing? I am about to find out. Some family and some friends are headed to Wimberley, Texas.  We'll stay at a place with a full kitchen, and though we plan to critique some of the eateries, we will cook some, too. Now that's a surprise, isn't it? (We cook with wine, you know, and ......you know the rest of the quote.

One of our go-to dishes is CHICKEN PICCATA. We discovered the recipe when Karyn lived in southern California where we had "right-off-the-tree" lemons.

This is the recipe from my collection of recipes.

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. butter or olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 t. paprika
2 T. dry white wine
Parsley, cilantro and lemon slices (optional)
My addition: 2 t. capers
Place each piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4" with mallet or rolling pin.
Combine flour and paprika; dredge chicken in flour mixture
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add olive oil or butter. Heat to medium. Cook chicken about six minutes or until brown (and until done). Remove from skillet and keep warm
Add wine, lemon juice, capers and bouillon  to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Pour over chicken. Garnish with parsley, cilantro and lemon slices..

This is so quick and easy and, so good. For a meal, add the ubiquitous green salad (or one that you've dressed up with all kinds of good things) some crusty bread and, oh,. yes, the rest of the white wine.

More about Wimberley in the next blog.
Good eating!
Jo Ann Miller

Thursday, March 7, 2013


According to the January, 2013, issue of Bon Appetit, pp.19-20, the margarita is not Mexico's most beloved cocktail. Did you know that? The Paloma, which features grapefruit juice, is the Mexican drink of choice. Now, I'm no expert on this subject, but I wanted to give it a try. When my friend took twenty grapefruit sectioned to a church retreat, she gave me the left-over juice. "Waste not; want not." A good reason to "indulge."

The BA writer gives his favorite rendition of the Paloma with some variations that work OK, but his use of the smokier mescal and real grapefruit juice, provide a different, but pleasant result.

Recipe borrowed from the aforementioned article:


Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.
Combine 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar in a glass;stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup mezcal* or tequila, add ice and top off with 1/4 cup club soda.
Garnish with grapefruit wedge. Makes 1.

Substitutions: Grapefruit-flavored soda  (Jarritos is the brand of choice, but Fresca will work.)
Sugar syrup for the granulated sugar.
Tequila for the mezcal.
*A note about mezcal. Very smoky. My first attempt tasted like bacon. Next try, used a jigger (2 T.) and the taste was better to me.

Hope my tee-totaller mother will forgive me for posting this.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tea & Cookies - A Simple Dessert Solution with Not-So-Simple Flavors

Last Friday, two of our favorite vendors graced Gourmet Gallery with a Tea and Cookie Pairing. We had a full house, and we tasted some wonderful treats. Since then, I have tasked our Gourmet Gallery crew to come up with some fun, simple recipes that are nice enough to serve to guests.

Below are two recipes. One from our friend Paul Wackym at Wackym’s Kitchen, and the other from our own kitchen. We have paired both of these with some of our Sterling Teas for a refreshing small dessert.

Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread with Bleu Cheese

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup bleu cheese at room temperature

1 teaspoon softened butter

½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix bleu cheese and butter until well-combined. Pipe or spread cheese mixture onto shortbread cookies and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle fresh rosemary lightly over cookies. Serve with Sterling Earl Grey Lavender Tea or a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lemon Butter Cookie with Raspberry Mousse

12 Wackym’s Kitchen Lemon Cookies (available at Gourmet Gallery)

½ cup whipping cream

2 Tablespoons Curdelicious Raspberry Curd (available at Gourmet Gallery)

Fresh lemon peel for garnish

Whip cream until firm peaks form. Fold in curd. Pipe or spoon on top of lemon cookie. Garnish with fresh lemon zest or peel. Serve with Sterling Lemon Velvet Tea (hot or iced) or with ice-cold champagne.

Paul Wackym also makes a delicious Margarita Cookie. He says it’s even better dipped in tequila. Try this one at your own risk.

Happy Cooking!