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Posts from — October 2010

Flagstaff and a followup

I exercised my “God-given” right to brag about my child back on September 30th and told you that Connor was going to have a comic strip in the NAU weekly newspaper… remember that?  Here is a follow-up – above are the first two of his Ticks and Lima Beans strips published. Yeah, Connor!

David had business to attend to in Flagstaff on Monday, so we spent last weekend there, visiting our artist and humorous son. It was such a joy and relief to get out of the warm, honestly – more like hot, weather in Phoenix! We did a little eating, a little sightseeing, and I did a little cleaning of the nasty dorm room – eww!

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October 20, 2010   3 Comments

you say filo, I say phyllo

I’ve been making these delectable fall-inspired appetizers for at least a dozen years and they are always a huge hit. I can’t recall exactly where the original recipe came from, all I know is that it was in one of the many Williams-Sonoma cookbooks I used to own. Depending on my mood or what I have on hand I’ll sub in walnuts for the pecans, Gorgonzola for the Roquefort, and pears or a mix of pears and apples, instead of all apples. Another fun addition is dried cranberries that have been soaked in a little cranberry juice or red wine, to plump them up. Just sprinkle them on before sprinkling on the nuts. FYI: 12 sheets of phyllo is just less than half a package.

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October 19, 2010   No Comments

tasty sticks

Here is the second of the two appetizer recipes using that 2-pound box of cherry tomatoes (cherubs). It couldn’t be easier and they will disappear before you know it … enjoy!

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October 18, 2010   1 Comment

green sludge

Halloween is exactly one week away, so if you don’t have a fun punch idea, here you go. You’re welcome!

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October 17, 2010   No Comments

just pretend I’m your mom

I want you to know that I am here for you! Here to make mistakes and tell you about them, so that you don’t make the same mistakes, kinda like parents try to do for their kids. The only difference, as rational adults, certainly you will listen better than the average teenager does!

My most recent faux pas? While shopping for the ingredients for about a half-dozen appetizers for an upcoming party, I didn’t follow my shopping list.  I had written “cherry tomatoes” on both my Costco and my Trader Joe’s lists. I went to Costco first and purchased a 2-pound package of those cute little “cherub” egg-shaped tomatoes.  Next, I was in Trader Joe’s I saw “cherry tomatoes” and thought, “Oh, I’ll have plenty of those from that huge package from Costco,” and promptly crossed them off the list.

Bad move! I needed real “cherry” tomatoes for this recipe, round and substantially larger than those little cherubs. Dang, it… but was I going to make another run to the market?

No way, do with what you’ve got, that’s my motto … OK, not so much as a motto as admission to the fact that I’m just lazy! So be sure and use cherry tomatoes, they will be easier to hollow out, easy to fill, and will stand up so much better on the serving tray…

The second cherry tomato recipe, which cherubs work perfectly, will be posted in a couple of days.

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October 15, 2010   2 Comments

break time

I’m going to take a long weekend break from my “reminiscing about our first trip to France” month for the next 4 or 5 days and instead focus on appetizers! Fun and creative appetizers because now that it is fall in AZ… it is THE time to party outside and enjoy our weather!  We are going to start out nice and slow with a cool serving idea for a party staple … the Mexican layer dip.

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October 14, 2010   3 Comments

seafood and Simca

Today’s recipe is another one of the many scrumptious creations we made during our week-long stay at La Pitchoune. It is adapted from Simon Beck’s Marmites of Seafood with Creamy Leeks from her cookbook, Simca’s Cuisine.  A marmite is a French-covered crock, by the way.

Simon Beck was Julia Child’s friend and co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Simon (also known by her nickname, Simca) and her husband, Jean Fischbacher, owned the property that Julia and Paul built their Provençal home on in 1963, near the town of Plascassier, in the hills above Cannes. Julia and Paul named it La Pitchoune – affectionately known as La Peetch. Pitchoune is a Provençal word meaning “the little one” which is apt since it is a small house, just up a small hill from Simca’s larger home.

You can read all about those wonderful years in Julia’s final book, the autobiographical My Life in France, published posthumously in 2006 and written with Paul Child’s nephew, Alex Prud’homme. The book recounts Julia’s life with Paul in post-World War II France.

The film, Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron, was adapted from Julia’s memoir My Life in France and from Julie Powell’s memoir, Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, the film was released in the summer of 2009.

If you would like to learn more about possibly taking the week-long cooking classes at La Pitchoune, you can visit Kathie Alex’s website, Cooking with Friends in France, and download the brochure to get all the details. Above is a pretty little watercolor picture I found of the La Peetch, on the site… great memories, good times!

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October 13, 2010   3 Comments

asparagus and santons

So many of the dishes we made during our stay at La Pitchoune were from famous French chefs and cookbook authors. This vegetarian dish, from Michel Richard, was amongst our favorites.

Another of my favorite things discovered on that first trip to France was the Santons that are so prevalent throughout Provence.  There are actually two styles of Santons, small painted clay figurines or larger clothed clay dolls, it was the dolls that were displayed in La Pitchoune that I fell in love with. Authentic French Santons are hand-crafted in Provence. They represent traditional Provencal characters that existed a few hundred years back in all villages in the South of France. They are made with clay and painted by hand one by one with real-life details.

The origin of the Santons goes back to the French revolution; Santon meaning “little saint” were traditionally used in churches at Christmas time around the “crèches” or nativity scene where they represented characters from the bible and as a result attracted large crowds mostly in the Provence region. In 1789, when the French government abruptly closed all churches, the parishioners were distraught and sought solace in recreating their own nativity scenes which included Santons in their homes. The characters grew from the traditional members of the nativity to the members of life throughout everyday Provincial life, from the baker to the bricklayer. The tradition was strong over the years and today Santons are a part of life in Provence.

The first picture farther above is of Julia and Kathie’s collection… and this second collection is mine. From left to right; tall male chef with a copper pot, a female baker with a huge basket of baguettes, a smiling bonneted woman carrying a duck in a basket, a male artist with a pallet and brunch along with his easel and painting, an angry-looking old bonneted woman shopping at the market, and finally a sweet vendor at the market with his vegetable cart carrying a scale.  Below is the last Santon photo, a more traditional set of the Magi that is always on display in our dining room but is set out to hold a more prominent place during Christmas.

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October 12, 2010   3 Comments


Another fantastic food memory from our trip to the south of France in 1997, is a decadent dessert we were served upon our arrival at La Pitchoune by the proprietor, Kathie Alex. (pictured below with me in Julia’s kitchen – check out the outlined pegboard) The dessert was a Roger Vergé’s Gratin of Raspberries with Sabayon. Just to put it over the top, Kathie served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side! You can too if you must.

Sabayon is a French sauce, but the Italians know it as Zabaglione sauce. It can be made in both a sweet or savory variation. Traditionally, sabayon is made with Marsala wine, but any spirit such as rum, brandy, triple sec, or cognac may be substituted. Kathie’s version used a raspberry l’eau de vie, such as Chambord. It was lovely, but a bit strong for my taste, so I’m using Grand Marnier. When raspberries are hard to find, use any fruit you please, a mix of sliced strawberries and orange segments would be perfect. Don’t these gorgeous fruits at the French market just make your mouth water?!

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October 11, 2010   2 Comments

Happy Sunday

I have a thing for short ribs. In my opinion, they are the most flavorful cut of beef around and are so easy to prepare. Sear, braise, finish off, and serve. Very little actual hands-on time is required for so much goodness!  A happy Sunday, indeed.

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October 10, 2010   No Comments