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Posts from — October 2010

Gratin and France

Ahh, the cooler weather has finally arrived in the desert. I am desperately craving fall foods in the worst way, especially this wonderful dish that Dave and I first enjoyed nearly 13 years ago, on our first trip to France. What a trip it was…

We arrived in Paris on a crisp mid-October evening and were in awe from the very first second. After spending two days in the “City of Light”, we boarded the EuroRail (high-speed train) headed for Cannes in the south of France. There, we rented a car and drove to our destination for the next week, a cooking school in Julia Child’s former Provençal home, La Pitchoune.

I shall share more of our story throughout the month of October, (my favorite month of the year) but for now, the recipe for Gratin de Courge Provençal.

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October 9, 2010   No Comments


This was Dave’s birthday cake. Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it seemed a pink cake was in order.

As many of you know, I am a past chair of both our local American Cancer Society gala, The Jewel Ball, and the Key To The Cure fashion show, benefiting breast cancer research, so pink is already my favorite color in October.

Several things coincided to make me think pink for Dave’s cake. First, I found a gift pack of those cute little Anthon Berg chocolate liqueur bottles at Costco and thought they would make perfect stocking stuffers and gift toppers in the coming months and also wondered how I could incorporate them into a recipe.

Next, I saw my friend, Larry Fitzgerald’s, PSA about breast cancer and how real men wear pink (Click HERE to see).

Finally, I remembered that I had blood orange juice in my freezer that I’d squeezed earlier in the year. So that is how the cake came to be and now you know that real men eat pink cake too!

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October 8, 2010   2 Comments


Happy birthday to my husband of 25 years, David! As is our tradition, I will be taking him out for a birthday dinner at a “surprise” restaurant. Since I can’t say where that is yet, I shall post a few pictures instead. The one above is Dave with two of his favorite people in the world, Connor and Marissa. The first one below is from October 1985, the first year of our marriage.

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October 6, 2010   4 Comments

lucky beef

A flat iron is steak is one of the most versatile pieces of beef. It takes to a marinade like a duck to water. You can grill it, use it in stir-fry, for fajitas, braise it, pan-fry it, whatever.

The last time I posted a recipe using flat iron steak was December 21st of last year, the day after our Arizona Cardinals won the  NFC West title. I am hoping that posting another recipe today, it will send a little (actually a whole boatload) of luck to our struggling team after their humiliating defeat on Sunday. It was a sorry display and just about impossible to watch!

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October 5, 2010   No Comments


Aubergine, better known as eggplant, is a favorite of mine, although you wouldn’t know it by searching for it on this blog. In more than a year, this is only the fourth time it has appeared. That is due to the fact that Dave doesn’t think he really likes eggplant and I know a lot of people who feel the same way. But each time he has it, he skeptically says, “that was pretty good.”  I have a theory as to why that is usually the reaction. Dave, and many people, have had eggplant prepared badly. Sadly, it is a common phenomenon, because eggplant can be a huge greasy bitter mess.

Eggplant is like a sponge, it will soak up as much oil as it gives it.  And the flesh can sometimes be naturally bitter. Like cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and tobacco; eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and it has much more of tobacco’s bitterness than the other family members.  The remedy for the bitter sponginess is to salt the flesh first. Salting, also known as degorging, accomplishes two goals: it pulls out juices that carry bitter flavors, and it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant’s sponge-like flesh, thus preventing it from absorbing so much oil and becoming greasy. The salted eggplant may be placed in a colander for an hour (best done with cubes) or placed in a single layer out on paper towels (best with slices). After the degorging is complete, rinse off the salt and squeeze dry before continuing. Eggplant can be cooked with the peel on or off. Unfortunately, the gorgeous aubergine color does not remain once it is heated, if it did, I would never peel it.

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October 4, 2010   1 Comment

part 2

This is part 2 of our recipe that began with yesterday’s slow-roasted tomatoes and the tomato water produced from seeding the tomatoes.

The sandwiches are rather complex, for a sandwich, anyhow. The various components may be used separately for a huge range of different dishes. Use the dressing for a salad or pasta; the chicken will stand on its own or maybe chopped into a salad or pasta, and the peaches are fabulous on their own or chopped into a salad or topped with ice cream for a sweet and savory dessert. Plus those tomatoes from yesterday … well the sky is the limit with those beauties!

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October 3, 2010   1 Comment

slow-roasted, sun-dried, or oven dried

This is part 1 of a two-part recipe. Today we are slow-roasting tomatoes. Not quite to the consistency of sun-dried tomatoes, but close. Tomorrow we’ll have part 2 which will use the tomatoes for delectable chicken sandwiches.

Today, I’m actually providing you with three recipes; the first is for the slow-roasted tomatoes we’ll use tomorrow. Next, you’ll find 2 methods to make your own sun-dried tomatoes, just in case you have a load of tomatoes lying about. One for true sun-dried (which unfortunately we can still do here in AZ) and the next for oven-dried tomatoes. Both work beautifully.

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October 2, 2010   4 Comments

Dang it!

As usual, there are overripe bananas sitting on my counter. That indicates two problems, first that people ask for bananas and then don’t use them, Marissa and Dave, I’m talking to you! And secondly, now I must make banana-something, again!  OK, that’s not truly a problem, just a reality.

The real problem is that I didn’t follow my own advice while preparing to make this coffee cake. I neglected to set up my mise en place (the French phrase meaning “everything in place”) beforehand. So even though this is called blueberry-banana coffee cake… there are no blueberries in mine. We had them on the side. Dang, it! Be sure to get out your blueberries, and everything else needed before you begin.

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October 1, 2010   No Comments