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Archive for the 'Friendship' CategoryPage 2 of 7

The Gastronomique Tour: Part 1, Week 1- Southwestern France

How do I edit a fantastic 2 week vacation during which I snapped 670 photos?… Not easily!

To sum it up, seeing family I hadn’t visited since 2004 was so enjoyable I wish I had more time to be w/ them. I definitely won’t let so much time pass before my next visit.

My first stop was Southwestern France. I landed in Bordeaux and spent the first week exploring the region surrounding Agen, the city where my brother and his wife live. This region is filled w/ great food and beautiful countryside which encompasses many well preserved medieval villages.

This post and the ones to follow will provide a visual taste of my experiences…

P1010639 Agen’s organic farmers market




P1010661 Gavaudun

P1010683 Biron


P1010712 Monpazier

P1010732 Bonaguil

P1010739 Rocamadour


P1010839 Foie gras museum



P1010873 Josephine Baker’s old house (Chateau des Milandes)

P1010881 Beynac




P1010919 Our picnic spot (Roque – Gageac)

P1010920 Decadent picnic food


A bientot!



Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Here are a few photos from the Christmas feast I attended:

Signing off until next year

Wishing you a fantastic, food filled 2015!!


Posole w/ Lamb Shanks

According to Wikipedia, pozole (more commonly referred to as posole in the United States) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico. It used to have ritual significance. Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of maize (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mesoamericans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough).

I spotted this recipe in the December 2013 edition of Food & Wine magazine. Traditionally posole is made w/ pork, however this recipe called for lamb shanks which appealed to me because I have a freezer full of grass-fed lamb from Missouri. It also sounded like a fantastic cold weather dish. It was so good that most of the friends I had over to partake in eating this posole asked for second helpings! I served the posole w/ sautéed kale and cornmeal bread for soaking up all the goodness.  Click here for cornmeal bread recipe.

Posole w/ Lamb Shanks (recipe adapted from Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, Athens, Georgia)


6 lamb shanks

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

1 large red onion, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

8 dried pasilla negro chiles, stemmed, 4 chopped

3 quarts low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Two 15 ounce cans of hominy, rinsed and drained

One 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cilantro, sliced avocado and lime wedges for serving


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2) In a large cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the lamb shanks w/ salt and pepper. Place 3 shanks in the pot and cook over moderate heat until browned all over. Transfer to a baking dish. Repeat the procedure w/ the remaining 3 shanks.

3) Add the garlic and half each of the onion, celery and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the cinnamon, oregano, 1 teaspoon of the cumin and the chopped chiles. Add the lamb shanks and any juices, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours until the lamb is very tender.

4) In a heatproof bowl, cover the remaining chiles w/ 2 cups boiling water; soak for 30 minutes.

5) Transfer chiles and 1 cup of the liquid to a food processor; puree until smooth.

6) Transfer the lamb shanks to the baking dish and loosely tent w/ foil. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

7) Wipe out the pot. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pot, add the remaining onion, celery and carrots, then cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the chile puree, coriander, hominy, pinto beans and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook for 2 minutes.

8) Add the strained broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season w/ salt and pepper. Add the shanks to the pot and cook until just heated through.

9) Serve the posole in bowls, passing the cilantro, avocado and lime wedges at the table.

Yield: 6 servings


Buena Fortuna!


Thanksgiving 2013

Here are a few photos of the Thanksgiving feast I attended at a friend’s house. I contributed the cornmeal bread as requested. Thanks for your hospitality Pamela!


Cornmeal bread

Sweet potatoes w/ lemons

Roasted root vegetables

Carved turkey


Fingerling potatoes

I hope you all had a pleasant holiday. I’m thankful for having such a great group of friends!


Lamb and Mushroom Pizza w/ Sourdough Crust

Last night’s dinner w/ friends. Recipe furnished upon request…

May your stomach always be happy!


“Green Eggs and Ham” – Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallops w/ Wasabi Tobiko on a Bed of Lemon Vinaigrette Dressed Frisee Salad

*click photo to enlarge

Made this appetizer w/ some friends and thought I’d share the photo that one of my friends snapped that evening. This dish used to be on the menu at Remy’s back when Ben Davis and Ivy Magruder were the chefs there. It’s a delicious way to start off a great meal! We had red wine braised swordfish w/ roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard for our main course. Dessert was fresh berries w/ cookies. Wines of evening were a 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac w/ dinner and a Mount Pleasant port w/ dessert. Thank you Paul and Laurie for bringing these great wines!!

Bon Appetit!



Pears Poached in Red Wine w/ New Caledonian Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise

I was able to kill 2 birds w/ one stone… I’ve been wanting to try a new dessert recipe and at the same time try out some unusual vanilla beans that I received as a Christmas gift. I had a few friends over for dinner recently, so for dessert we had poached pears w/ a creme anglaise made w/ some of these unique vanilla beans. It was a great combination and a delicious finish to a fun evening! Next I will have to try another dish using the vanilla beans from Reunion Island. Stay tuned…

*Pears Poached in Red Wine w/ New Caledonian Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise

*pear recipe adapted from one developed by Beatrice Peltre

Ingredients (for the pears):

6 Bosc pears

1 cup sugar

4 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 bottle dry red wine

1/2 lime



1) In a large bowl, combine the water and lime juice. Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the base of each pear so the fruits sit without toppling. Drop each one into the water; set aside.

 2) In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine the wine, sugar, anise, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

3) Add the pears and additional water to cover the pears. To keep the pears submerged in the poaching liquid, cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan and set it on the surface of the liquid. Place a small plate on top of the paper so it presses the pears into the liquid.

4) Simmer the pears for 25 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. They may need 5 to 10 minutes longer if they were not ripe.

5) Remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave the fruit to cool completely in the poaching liquid.

6) Transfer the pears and their liquid to a large container. Refrigerate for at least several hours and as long as 3 days (the longer they steep in the liquid the darker and fuller flavored they will get).

Ingredients (for the creme anglaise):

4 New Caledonian vanilla beans (mine were small but for normal size beans use less)

1/2 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 pint half & half


1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded.

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

5) Put the creme in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Yield: 6 servings


This was a delicious and light dessert. I hope you enjoy it. We sure did!


Christmas Dinner 2012

Here are a few photos from Christmas dinner at a friend’s house. The lighting was low so the color and sharpness aren’t very good (except the salad photo which was taken in the kitchen), but at least you can see what we feasted on. There was butternut squash soup,  Boursin potato gratin, roasted veggies, a salad w/ candied walnuts, pears and gorganzola cheese, pecan pie and chocolate truffles! I brought the boneless leg of lamb stuffed w/ crimini mushrooms, fresh chestnuts, garlic, rosemary, thyme and apricots soaked in Calvados. I also made a merlot sauce w/ porcini mushrooms. Everything was delicious and the evening was a lot of fun!!

** click on photos to enlarge

Hoping your 2013 is filled w/ peace, joy, health and happiness!

Happy cooking…


Cranberry Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Thinking of bringing something to your friends’ holiday party but not sure what? Well, here’s a treat that is sure to satisfy everyone’s  sweet tooth and is fairly easy to whip up. The color is kind of Christmasy too! I made this gelato for Thanksgiving, but I’m sure your friends wouldn’t frown upon you if you showed up at their holiday meal w/ this in hand…

Cranberry Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients: (for cranberry sauce)

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon lime juice

Procedure: (for cranberry sauce)

1) Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil; maintain at a slow boil for 5 minutes

2) Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until sauce thickens

3) Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes; refrigerate overnight

Ingredients: (for gelato)

1/2 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

1 quart half  & half

1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)

1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce

Procedure: (for gelato)

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling

5) In a food processor, blend together cranberry sauce and gelato mixture,  then chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight

6) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the hazelnuts  when mixture starts to freeze

7) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container, stir to evenly distribute hazelnuts, then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts

Happy Holidays!



Sourdough Wheat Baguettes

If you’re not sure what to bring to your friend’s house for Thanksgiving, here’s an idea. Not as time consuming as some baguette recipes and the results are delicious. If you’re not careful you may eat them all up before you head out to your Thanksgiving feast!!


Sourdough Wheat Baguettes  (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)


5/8 cup lukewarm water

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup wheat flour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons salt


1) In a large mixing bowl, stir everything together to make a rough dough. Then start to knead (using a stand mixer, or your hands), adding only enough additional flour as necessary; a slack (sticky) dough makes a light loaf.

The dough will probably stick to the sides of the bowl (or your work surface) at first; scrape it off the sides, and continue kneading for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer; or 8 to 10 minutes by hand.

2) Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.

3) Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into three equal pieces, then shape each piece into a 14 inch long loaf.  Here’s how:

Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape it into a rough log. Fold it lengthwise, and use the heel of your hand to press the edges together. Fold it lengthwise again, and again press the edges together; you’ll notice that during this folding process, the dough has naturally lengthened.

Turn the log over so the seam side is down, and gently roll it into a 14 inch long loaf.

4) Place the loaves onto the back of a baking pan lined w/ parchment paper dusted w/ corn meal and dust loaves w/ flour before covering. Cover them gently w/ plastic wrap, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they’re nice and puffy. (I used a couche under the parchment paper to give my baguettes support during the second rise)

5) Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven and pizza stone to 450°F.

6) When the loaves are ready for baking remove the plastic wrap and make three diagonal slashes in each loaf, cutting about 1/4 inch deep w/ a serrated knife.  Carefully slide the loaves w/ the parchment paper onto the pizza stone. Bake the baguettes for about 25 minutes, or until they’re a rich golden brown.

7) Remove the loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing. (To get the exterior crunchy again at your friend’s house, place in a 325 degree F oven for 4 or 5 minutes)


Eat well, drink well and be thankful for all the goodness in your life!