Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thai Watermelon Salad

Yup, it's fall.  Connie didn't even ask me if I wanted to eat out on the screened porch.  It's our summertime favorite spot.  We finish our dinners and head to the rockers and finish our wine and talk.  Now, though, it's cold and rainy.  Good thing I made comfort food for dinner - potato, bacon and cabbage torte.  There's enough left for lunch day after tomorrow.  That's because I'm having lunch with a client tomorrow.  Connie will get the leftover sesame noodles while I eat something not as good... Today we had leftover duck risotto.  That was amazingly good stuff.  Dinner on Tuesday will be appetizers at a beer tasting.  And, Wednesday's dinner is almost done and in the fridge.  I won't have to dig into the freezer at the office this week at all.  Best of all, by the time the week's over we'll have tried at least six new recipes.  Thus far, the five we've tried have all been keepers.  I love it when that happens. 

So, let's talk about the recipes...

French Toast with Peaches.  I blogged about this for Secret Recipe Club.  REALLY good stuff!

Jeni's Pear Riesling Sorbet.  There's an ice cream shop in Columbus, OH (Dublin, OH if you want to be really specific) called Jeni's.  For the most part, Connie and I have very similar tastes.  We love cheese, anchovies, smoked oysters, salumi.  We dislike milk.  But, I love ice cream and he doesn't.  When we're in Ohio visiting our grandkids, we frequently head to Jeni's.  Yup, it's typically my suggestion.  I have a heckuva time deciding what to get.  There are so many incredible flavors to choose from.  Connie, not so much.  He gets the Pear Riesling Sorbet.  So, thinking that I might try to make some ice cream like Jeni's I bought her cookbook.  Lucky day!  It has the Pear Riesling Sorbet recipe!  Now, I wound up dumping the mix in the freezer and leaving it overnight.  So, what I really have is a frozen block at this point.  But, scraping with a spoon allows a spoonful at a time to be enjoyed.  And, I've got to say it's just the same flavor. 

Duck Risotto.  A lot of folks find risotto intimidating.  I'll confess that I felt the same way way back when.  Now, risotto is clean up the kitchen for two.  We've not made risotto in forever.  Then, one of my blogger friends mentioned the fact she was making duck risotto.  So, Heather Tallman, aka Basilmomma, this is ALL your fault.  I took my typical mushroom risotto recipe and changed it up just a bit.  The initial olive oil was replaced with duck fat.  A duck confit leg was shredded and added with the mushrooms.  And, of course, the duck skin was crisped and put on top.  YUM!!  At some point I've got to check Heather's blog and see how she made hers...

Then, we had two totally new recipes. 

The first was sesame noodles.  Pretty basic stuff.  A peanut butter, soy sauce and sesame noodle dressing over thin spaghetti, chicken, red bell pepper and snow peas.  I got the recipe in a Martha Stewart email.  We've had several similar dishes and loved all of them.  Best thing is that since the recipe is to be served at room temperature or cool, it makes fabulous leftovers!

 I'd been hungry for the watermelon salad with feta and red onions.  That was until I read Jamie Oliver's Thai Watermelon Salad recipe in Jamie's Dinners.  This was amazing.  I ate the leftovers the next day for lunch.  The peanuts were kinda yucky.  But, the rest of the salad was still killer.  This will absolutely be a regular in our home.

Thai Watermelon Salad

1/2 of a small, seedless watermelon
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1 handful of mint leaves
1 small bunch of radishes, thinly sliced
1 large handful peanuts
1- 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

for the dressing:
2 t grated fresh ginger
2 T soy sauce
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t sesame oil
juice of two limes
salt and pepper


Mix the dressing ingredients.  Toss all the salad ingredients.  Mix with the dressing and serve immediately.

Monday, September 15, 2014

French Toast with Peaches

Ah, yes, Secret Recipe Club...  Either watch The Roosevelts or write.  Since this is due at midnight, I shall write.  Yes, I waited until the last minute.  Time flew.  A trip to Seattle.  Lots of work at the office.  A whirlwind.  So, this month I was assigned Debbie Does Dinner Healthy.   After much deliberation, I'd settled on either the Kung Pao Chickpeas or the Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwiches.  But, that wasn't to be.  I had nectarines that needed to be used up.  And, Debbie posted a great recipe for French toast with sautéed peaches.  I had to try it. 

What did we think?  Wonderful!!!  This recipe was not only a great way to use up some expiring fruit and get Connie to eat fruit (yes, he counts the servings of fruit he's given a week...) it was also a wonderful way to use fruit instead of syrup on French toast. 

French Toast with Peaches

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 T butter
3 to 4 fresh peaches, peeled & sliced
2T cup brown sugar
4 or 5 slices of bread 


Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Dunk the bread in the milk mixture then put it in the skillet.  Flip it once to thoroughly brown both sides.  In a small skillet, sauté the peaches and brown sugar.  Serve the peaches over the French toast

Adapted from Debbie Does Dinner Healthy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Truffled Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Home from vacation.  I'll share the trip with you another time.  Right now, I want to share with you the clean up the kitchen for two dish I made for dinner tonight.  We had some Yukon Gold potatoes that were getting a big long in the tooth.  And, there was bacon in the fridge to use up.  I could either add the bacon to the panzanella salad or I could add it to the potatoes...  You see, we also had half a loaf of kalamata olive bread we'd bought at Pike Place Market and stashed in my canvas tote to bring home.  That and the end of some of the veggies from the garden and an Eggland's Best contest determined the panzanella salad.  For about three minutes I felt guilty about serving bread and potatoes in the same meal.  Then, I got over it.  It was either that or go to the grocery.  Pragmatism won. 

My mom makes killer twice baked potatoes.  Never had any better.  I decided to make some in casserole form since the Yukon Gold's don't have skins that are amenable to stuffing.  The potatoes got trimmed, roughly chopped and tossed in the cooking water.  I turned my attention to the panzanella salad.  The zucchini and yellow squash and onion got grilled.  The bread was chopped.  The cherry tomatoes were halved and smooshed at bit.  The dressing got made.  About that time the diced bacon was nice and done.  Not crispy but just happy.  I drained the potatoes into a colander then tossed them in a bowl with butter.  Cream, thyme and shredded cheddar followed.  Cream because that's what we had.  I didn't feel like the tang of sour cream or yogurt.  And, the milk was old.  Cream it was.  Then, I walked into the dining room.  There on the table was the truffle oil.  The same truffle oil that we'd used on the potato chips last night.  You want to hear about those?  Ok, hang on.  I had to put a bit in the potatoes.  Everything got mashed together, put in a casserole and topped with bacon.  Then, I put it in a warm oven until the salads were ready...

What did we think?  Connie says I can pretty much put truffle oil in anything.  Ice cream maybe?  Fruit salad?  Those might be a bit out there!  At any rate, we loved these potatoes.  The cheese was present but didn't stand out.  The truffle oil was the same.  Ditto the bacon.  In other words, everything played really well together. 

Now, before I give you the rough draft of the recipe, let me tell you about the chips...  Our first two days in the Pacific Northwest we stayed with our friends Helene and Cath on Vashon Island.  Cath bought us a little bag of housemade chips from Thriftway.  I tucked them in my bag and forgot I had them until it was time to repack for the trip to come home five days later.  When we got home we were both tired and it was pretty late.  A tomato, cucumber and Swiss chard salad from the garden was in order.  Along with some salumi from Salumi (owned by Mario Batali's father...) and some gruyere cheese.  Then, I realized I had the chips too.  Those got tossed in a warm oven with a drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkle of truffle salt.  OMG they were GOOD!!!!


Truffled Twice Baked Potato Casserole


5 large Yukon Gold potatoes or 10 mediums
2 T butter
1/4 c cream
4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (we use Cracker Barrel)
2 t fresh thyme
1 t white truffle oil
4 slices bacon, diced and browned


Cook and drain the potatoes.  Mash them with the next five ingredients.  Top with the bacon and serve.