Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Carole’s Superb Roasted Veggies

Meet Carole Dickinson Ridley, my friend for the past 40 years. ACK! ACK! ACK! Carole’s going to kill me! I can’t seem to remove
the photo on the left! Carole’s a great cook who rarely uses recipes (She rarely reads this blog, either, which is also great: The photo won’t go away). Carole and I have laughed together (which goes without saying) and cried together. There was a time when we were so close that she even suggested we trade outfits. I politely declined without giving a reason, but hinted that she had big shoes to fill and I couldn’t possibly be as stylish as she is.  

Carole’s also in the  shot on the right - hair askew, no makeup on her face. 
Shes very brave to allow herself to be photographed that way. Personally, I wouldn’t dare. I’ve never been caught without makeup, mostly because every photographer whos tried has run from the room, screaming. 
I stayed at Carole’s house last week, enjoying her hospitality and - ta dah! - her superb vegetables roasted in coconut oil. I said I wanted the recipe. She said she didn’t have one.  Carole says this method works with any vegetable, though she went through some trial and error before she achieved success. Preheating her oven to 350 deg. F., then she set to work. So here’s what I watched her do!

Carole’s Superb Roasted Veggies:

Use your choice of assorted vegetables such as broccoli, red onions, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and so forth. Peel and prepare veggies as you would for boiling or steaming. Salt and pepper them to taste.
Carole leaves the skin on small potatoes, sprinkling the spuds with garlic powder and/or fresh rosemary on top of the usual S&P. Dot these veggies with generous lashings of refrigerated (see Note) coconut (or olive) oil, with the amount of oil dependent on the amount of potatoes you’re preparingToss everything to thoroughly combine the oil and spuds well; roast, uncovered, about 35 min. Toss them once or twice as they roast, checking their tenderness. 
Cauliflower, Carole trims into biggish chunks in a separate uncovered casserole dish, following the same method, temperature, and time. 
Broccoli and red onions, Carole roasts together, in one casserole dish, because she likes the blend of flavors. Be sure to combine veggies of the same approximate cooking times rather than adding mushrooms to carrots, for example. If one type of vegetable is finished before another, she simply covers it with foil so it wont over-roast before the rest is done.
Once again, Carole pours coconut (or olive) oil over everything, tossing everything well before placing it in the oven, uncovered, to roast as she does above. 
Carole does mushrooms differently: She baked the ones she served me (also at 350 deg. F.), slicing them directly into a little coconut oil in a small casserole, giving them a little toss, and covering the casserole to keep them from drying out. How long, I asked? “I don’t time these, but they don’t take very long,” she says.

Note: Refrigerating the oil will solidify it, allowing it to be dabbed rather than poured. 

Postscript: Meet Bud Ridley, Carole’s loving mate. Everyone says they have so much in common ...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Banana Frappe

This hot summer weather means bananas ripen fast (Sorry, Australia, but we’re sweltering in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live). So here’s a way to use ’em up even faster.

Banana Frappe:

2 ripe or brown-spotted bananas
1 egg
1 c. cold milk 
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. ice cubes

Add all ingredients to blender. Buzz like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, until most of ice is crushed or has disappeared. Serve at once. Yields 2-to-3 large glasses.

Note: If you want to substitute a splash of cold coffee for half the milk, reduce the milk to 1/2 cup. 

Banana Frappe: Thick, creamy, and nutritious! 

Totally anonymous woman slugs yummy Banana 
Frappe while showing off costly dental work. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie

When I recently discovered that I’d lost my very best peanut butter cookie recipe, I went on the rampage/on the hunt for a new and better one. This is it! My 10-year-old grand-daughter Sydney made these as I looked on.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie:

1 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars about 5 min. or until no grainy feeling remains when you rub a little batter between finger and thumb. 
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add to batter, beating on low speed between additions. When well combined, beat in vanilla extract. 
Roll into balls the size of whole walnuts. Flatten using the floured 
bottom of a glass. Using a floured fork, make a criss-cross pattern on each cookie. Bake 6-to-7 min. for soft, puffy cookies and 10-to-12 min. for chewy ones, watching that the cookies don’t over-brown. Makes 4 dozen.

Sydney stands on a stool to measure the ingredients.

Success! Ready for the oven! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dinner Party Series: Summer Brunch

Come for coffee! Why not an easy brunch, instead? Fill purchased  croissants with scrambled eggs, add juice, some fresh fruit, and yes! - a cuppa tea or coffee. Now isn’t that better than a mere “cup of coffee”? The good news is that this simple brunch is quick and memorable. We enjoyed it on our deck a couple of days ago.

For a hit of piquancy, add chopped green onion to your eggs. 

Broccoli Coleslaw (Version 2)

My trusty friend Lorna, who is full of good ideas, sent me this recipe four years ago. As the organized person I am, I’d neatly tucked it into an unlabeled file and completely forgotten about it. So there it was, staring me in the face, and there I was, with every single ingredient on hand. How could I not try it? Once I did, I knew Id be making this gorgeous salad over and over again. 

Add some cooked chicken, and this is all you’ll need for a main course summer meal, but I like it just fine as a scrumptious summer salad! The quantity below serves 2 or 3.

To Prepare the Salad:

Broccoli Coleslaw:

1-1/2 c. chopped broccoli, trimmed into flowerets and peeled, sliced stalks
1 or 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 apple, unpeeled and diced into 1/2-in. pieces
1/3 c. dried cranberries
3 tbsp. sunflower or pumpkin seeds, toasted 5 or 6 min. 

In workbowl, combine all ingredients except seeds. Toss lightly and set aside.

To Prepare the Dressing:

Yogurt Dressing:

2 tbsp. full-fat, plain yogurt (such as Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. maple syrup

Shake together in a covered jar. Pour over salad, tossing well. Transfer to serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate two or three hours ahead, adding seeds immediately before serving.




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dinner Party Series: Nicole’s Watermelon-Tomato Greek Salad

This is the best and most refreshing sweet variation on a Greek salad that you’ll ever taste - just as good at a picnic as it was for the Dinner Party Ron and I hosted last night! 

NicoleWatermelon-Tomato Greek Salad

NicoleWatermelon-Tomato Greek Salad:

1-3/4 lb. (795 g) heirloom grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise 
1 seedless mini-watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1-1/4-in. cubes
3/4 tsp. coarsely ground salt
Generous grinding of coarsely ground black pepper, to taste (see Note)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar, to taste 
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar or blood-orange vinegar 
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
10-to-12 pitted kalamata olives, whole
1 c. soft goat cheese, crumbled 
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

In a medium work bowl, lightly combine tomatoes and watermelon.   In a small covered jar, shake together salt, pepper, sugar, oil, and vinegar. Pour over tomatoes and watermelon, tossing lightly. Let stand 20 min., stirring occasionally. Add bell pepper and kalamata olives, again tossing lightly. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkling with soft goat cheese and parsley. Serve at once. 

*   *   *

Now, then! I greatly modified this recipe from one I found in the July, 2013 edition of The New York Times Magazine - so much so, that I can call this salad an original. Because I made it for a Dinner Party, I’ll show you how the table looked! But first, a couple of notes on making everything sparkle: Would you offer wine glasses with lipstick on the rim? Plates that are chipped or marked with thumb prints? No, you would not. So pay the same caring attention to your cutlery, whether its silver or stainless steel.

I have a brick-load of silver plate cutlery I began collecting it when I was 18, more than mmmffff-mmmfff years ago. I use it and polish it regularly, storing it in plastic so it will stay clean longer. It’s a myth that you can’t store silver in plastic: What’s good enough for silver museums is good enough for me. Use and enjoy your precious possessions!

Store your silver in plastic bags!

What’s already clean doesn’t take long to clean again. If I can avoid it, I’d rather not have tarnished forks at my table. Adding cutlery to each place setting requires thought and precision: Walk yourself through each course so you won’t forget anything important.

Clean cutlery with a cloth impregnated with  
jewelers’ rouge for a residue-free job.  

I enjoy tablescaping: If you don’t, do whatever feels good for you. It usually takes me awhile to achieve the look I want. Part of my fussing involves arranging the cutlery, plates, glasses, and serving dishes on the table in a way I find pleasing. I dont measure anything, but try to do my best to ensure the cutlery is an inch from the edge of the table and equidistant from the plate for each setting. 

Fussing at this early stage is well worth the extra time.

It takes awhile to build the look of any table. Have patience and work slowly. I chose a blue-themed table because it reminded me of my favorite Greek restaurants - and this was a Greek meal.

We sampled Retsina - white wine flavored with pine-resin. 
The Greeks have made this type of wine for more than 
 2,000 years. I served it in this $8 decanter I found in a 
tiny Italian town some 20 years ago ... a nice memory

At the very last minute, I added some blue glasses 
for our taste-testing. Retsina is definitely an acquired taste! 

Our guests had fun ...

And so did Ron and I ... 

And thats what its all about! To set the mood, Ron played Greek music on his iPod. You’ll find other entertaining tips under the Dinner Party Series heading in this blog’s Index.

Note: If you enjoy a cool summer salad, try my Watermelon-Feta Salad, indexed under Salads: Watermelon-Feta.