Thursday, December 23, 2010

The big breakfast

A proper English breakfast
When we were hiking from inn to inn in the Lake District in the early '90s, one of our joys each morning was watching a goofy morning British TV show, "The Big Breakfast," where one of the gimmicks was that the crew would arrive at a home, clean the house and prepare a proper English breakfast for the inhabitants, then clean up. Of course, they came unannounced, so the people were often in their bathrobes, curlers in their hair, etc. Sometimes the crew even brought a brass band for entertainment.

But to me, the big English breakfast was entertainment in itself. The American breakfast - bacon or sausage, eggs, hashbrowns and toast - pales in comparison.

This morning, I attempted a variation on the English breakfast. I started with turkey sausage crumbles, heating them until hot in a skillet, then adding two farm-fresh eggs, a little salt and pepper, then scrambling them until just done. I kept those warm while I browned the ripe tomatoes, halved and cut side down. Meanwhile, I sliced a couple of pieces of coffee cake, and topped them with a fresh currant sauce (recipe below). It was a very hardy and pretty breakfast.

Fresh Red Currant Sauce
Makes about a half cup

I had never seen fresh currents, only dried, so when I came across them at the grocery store, I had to try them. By themselves, they are almost as tart as cranberries.

4 ounces fresh red currants
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons sugar (approximately)

Wash and pull stems off currants. Put them in an ovenproof French canning jar, the ones that look like wide glasses with orange plastic lids.  I added one tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of sugar and microwaved them until the mixture boiled to the top of the jar. I removed the jar from the 'wave, tasted, and added another tablespoon of sugar. I again brought the mixture to a boil, and tasted again. This time it was just right for my taste; you may want yours sweeter, but the tarter sauce tastes nice when paired with a rich, sweet dessert.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thigh high

What are you looking at? My thighs?
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are among the fastest cooking meats. True, they aren't as pretty as the breast, but they pack a small wallop of flavor that the whiter meat can't beat.

Chicken thighs with penne pasta and stewed tomatoes
Serves 2

1 can (15 ounce) stewed tomatoes
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup Newman's Own Light Lime dressing
4 ounces dry penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 chopped onion
Grated Parmesan to taste

Put the stewed tomatoes in a small saucepan and heat on low. Pound the thighs until they are an even thickness. Marinate with the lime dressing. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add pasta. Meanwhile,  heat the olive oil in a skillet big enough for the 2 thighs. When medium hot, add the thighs. Cook the chicken about 8 minutes, then turn. Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the rest of the marinade and cook for 5 more minutes. After the pasta has cooked for 12 minutes or until al dente, drain and toss with a little olive oil and Parmesan. Drain the excess liquid from the tomatoes and serve the tomatoes, pasta and hot thighs and onions immediately. Grate extra Parmesan on the tomatoes to taste.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Have it your way - healthful, even

Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese

McDonald's employs a director of nutrition? Who knew? Dr. Cindy Goody has been with McDonald’s since 2008. She was recently interviewed for Nation's Restaurant News, and had some interesting things to say:
Nutrition is the science of how our bodies use food to contribute to health, and as a registered dietitian, I have an opportunity to translate that science so consumers can use it to improve their health and well-being. As McDonald’s director of nutrition I have the opportunity to share this knowledge with the more than 26 million customers that visit our 14,000 U.S. restaurants every day.
Her philosophy is that there are no good or bad foods, but anyone can consume a bad balance of foods. Since McDonald's offered varied menu choices, she says people can build a nutritious meal from the items offered and by monitoring their portion size.
McDonald’s has provided nutrition about our quality food for more than 35 years. Today, there are eight ways customers can easily access McDonald's nutrition information: on, via our toll-free telephone number (1-800-244-6227), on select product packaging, on the backs of trayliners, in-restaurant nutrition brochures, via voice-activated information through our toll-free number, via mobile devices and now on
As an improvement to Happy Meals, Goody says McDonald’s sells more than 72 million Apple Dippers annually and more than 180 million Milk Jugs per year.
And guess what? McDonald's will even be adding oatmeal to its breakfast offerings next year.
We'll see if that gets the same real estate on their menu board that the Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese (740 calories) with large fries (500 calories) and soft drink (310 calories). 
(By the way, those aren't the most calorie-dense offerings: that would be the Angus Bacon Cheese with 790 calories, 2070 mg sodium, and the large triple thick chocolate shake at 1160 calories.)
If you want to check out the nutritional stats of your favorite Mickey D's food, you can view the pdf here.

To read the entire interview with Goody:’s-usa-director-nutrition?ad=healthydining&utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kale and hearty

The tomatoes are mostly a distant memory at the City Market, the peppers too, but kale goes on and on. It's a hardy green, mostly used for braising, but it makes great chips. This recipe from Martha Stewart is also very good, and a way for those of you with CSA's to add a little variety to a favored crop as the weather gets colder.

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing
Serves 8

2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Toss 2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups); 1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise; and 2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise, in a large bowl.
Puree 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup salted peanuts, 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in a blender until smooth.
Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped.
From Martha Stewart Living, August 2009

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pullets' surprise

I've been eating out way too much lately, but I'll be back cooking again soon. In the meantime, check out how the chickens are coming along; no eggs yet, but soon, soon...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Library offers a menu of great choices

Charlottesville friends, do you have a Jefferson-Madison Regional Library card? Not only do the new ones look totally hip and not something you'd be embarrassed to have on your keychain, during the month of October, you'll get a 10 percent discount at many area businesses. Here's a short list of the food-related ones; more can be found at the library's website. (The YUM's are places I've checked out at least three times and liked each time.)

Autumn Hill Vineyards, 301 River Drive, Stanardsville, VA
Blue Ridge Café & Catering, 8315 Seminole Trail, Ruckersville, VA
Brix Terrace Café, 594 Pantops Center, Charlottesville, VA
Carving Board Café, 624 Albemarle Square, Charlottesville, VA (YUM!)
Integral Yoga Natural Foods, 923 Preston Avenue, Charlottesville, VA (YUM!)
La Cocina del Sol, 1200 Crozet Avenue, Crozet  (YUM!)
The Lafayette Inn, 146 East Main Street, Stanardsville, VA
Lord Hardwick’s Pub, 5920 Seminole Trail, Barboursville & 1248 Emmet Street, Charlottesville
Maggie Moos, Hollymead Town Center, 145 Community Center, Charlottesville, VA
Maharaja Fine Indian Cuisine, 139 Zan Road, Charlottesville, VA
Nate & Em’s Pizza, 5920 Seminole Trail, Barboursville, VA 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The chickens are here!

We got three pullets today: a Black Australorp, a Buff Orfington and a Rhode Island Red. I'll post photos as soon as they relax and get the lay of the land.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carrot cake heaven

Because of the difficulties in slicing the baked cake
into thirds, this one came out with five layers.
What could possibly be more delicious than a well-made carrot cake? Try layering the frosting on six thin cakes. Ms. Multitasker, a food blogger from Singapore, got out her "Boulevard: The Cookbook" and went after it (although she, like the cookbook, neglected to give any hint on how to slice the halved 9-by-13-inch  cake into thirds, although she was honest about the effort it took - I think when I try this, I will use the dental floss trick and let you know how it comes out).

If you can't wait until I publish my efforts, read her story by clicking here. I have the cookbook in hand: The recipe is on pages 208-211. It includes not only the cake with frosting, but carrot sherbet, candied walnut ice cream, cream cheese ice cream, walnut caramel and a garnish of candied carrots.

The best advice from Ms. Multitasker? Grate the carrots the night before and let your arms rest up for the main event.

Another idea I'd like to try: Make this recipe into cupcakes, fill with the caramel and the cream cheese frosting, more frosting on top and serve with the sherbet and ice cream. Any suggestions on which I should try first?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chickens' run

As the day our chickens are to arrive gets closer, I keep noticing more stories about urban chickens, and the new Yahoo building that's fashioned after a chicken coop. In Illinois, Evanston citizens can now keep chickens in their backyard as the city ends a 36-year chicken ban‎. And the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting its first chicken coop tour, an alternative to the traditional home tour, and the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul‎ are having a Parade of Chicken Coops as well.

Here's a picture of our new coop, sans chickens as of yet:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sous vide - so-so?

I must admit, I love the concept of sous vide: Lovely little packets done to perfection and awaiting to be plopped on a plate and served. Poached salmon you can set and forget, for hours.

But thank you, thank you David Hagedorn for testing out the home versions and being brutally honest about the results. (Read the Washington Post article here. The headline for the web version is much better than the ones on the paper version.)

One thing the story reminded me of was our camping eggs trick. You boil water, put the container in an insulated bag, put your beaten, seasoned raw eggs in a freezer zip bag and dunk it in the hot water. In a few minutes, put the bag out, squish the eggs around a bit, then put it back in the water until they are the consistency you like. Voila - scrambled eggs and no pan to clean. I think The Bee actually published this trick and got taken to task for a. the eggs may not get thoroughly cooked and could be dangerous to those with compromised immune systems (which begs the question, should sick people be camping?) and b. the bag could melt. Luckily, neither has happened on my watch, but I can see the point.

Friday, September 24, 2010

C'ville Market

Finding a grocery store in Charlottesville isn't hard. There are lots of them, from the large (Sam's Club) to the boutique (Feast!) and everywhere in between. I tend to go to those closest, Foods of All Nations (which often translates as "Foods of All Prices" because much is often dear) and Harris Teeter (which is kind of like Nugget Markets for you West Coast readers). But I've enjoyed venturing off now and again. I stop in at Food Lion off the I-64 5th Street exit (they have a lot of Latin food items and at better prices than the specialty stores), Reid Supermarket (for the variety of cheap meats), and Integral Yoga (always has a variety of local apples the other stores don't, plus a better variety of wheat "meat"). I love the shopping experience at Whole Foods, but it's almost as out of the way as Sam's (which I refuse to join; solidarity with the downtrodden workers and all that).

Also a little out of the way, but well worth the trip, is C'Ville Market. It's in a warehouse-looking strip mall on Carlton Avenue, on the southwest side of town. You come in the doors, however, and it looks like a little country store, only with better service, and a walk-in refrigerated produce section, a treat in itself on summer days.

Yes, I'm a fan. And you can check out the specials each week on their site,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An easy bread salad

Also known as panzanella

Although I make this salad by feel, it does require a few things that cannot be substituted: Homegrown tomatoes (or ripe ones from a farmer who's not shipping them somewhere), high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and stale artisan bread. If your tomatoes are really juicy and your bread is sufficiently stale but not hard, you can just cut the bread in cubes and skip the soak.

Lori K's easy bread salad
Serves 6

1 large day-old baguette or equivalent stale artisan bread
2 large ripe tomatoes, cubed (one red, one yellow adds color)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Sliced kalamata olives to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 basil leaves, ribboned
handful of arugula if you have it
Sea salt and peppercorns, freshly ground

Soak the bread in hot water until softened but not soggy. Squeeze out the water. Put in a big bowl. Toss in everything else, adjusting oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.
Vary the flavor by soaking the bread in broth, adding peperoncini slices for a kick, a little rosemary or replacing the vinegar with lemon juice.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stocking up on stock

The one sign that's hard to pass up in a grocery store is "Whole fryers, 59 cents a pound." On sale, they sit like little plastic-wrapped, slightly lumpy bowling balls. They are sold as fresh, but they are darn near frozen, maybe a degree or two above. Still, they going into the cart, four at a time.

Spatchcocking a chicken
Once home, I line them up and begin to cut.

I usually spatchcock two of them: I take them out of the bag, put the neck, heart and gizzard in the stock pot, set the liver aside, rinse and dry the chicken well, take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut up each side of the backbone, which then goes in the stock pot, too. Flatten out the birds, season and  put the two of them in a 9x13-inch glass casserole, put in a 450-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear. They come out beautifully brown and easy to carve.

The cooked, flattened chicken
Meanwhile, the other two are separated into wings, thighs and breasts; everything else goes in the stock pot, skin and all. I add a couple of bay leaves, some pepper corns, a couple of carrots and an onion. I cover the parts with water, bring to almost a boil, then turn it on low to simmer for several hours until the meat is falling off the bones. I then strain the broth and put it in the fridge to separate the fat. I pick off whatever meat looks good for chicken salad or soup and throw the rest out. I usually end up with at least 4 quarts of broth and enough chicken for about 10-12 dinners for two, not counting soup.

I usually fry the livers in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, then eat them on toasts. If you don't have a cholesterol problem, they are good for you, high in iron and other nutrients: thiamin, zinc, copper and manganese, and Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and folate.

The entire process usually takes me about an hour and a half, not counting the time it takes to simmer the broth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dressing up fresh fruit

Mission figs
The fading days of summer are full of ripe fruit of all kinds: figs, pears and melons to name a few. And while you may be busy canning some of this goodness to tide you over for the winter, or laying in containers of frozen fruit to be enjoyed in smoothies later, be sure to enjoy all that you can right now, because nothing is better than fresh, ripe fruit.

As good as fruit is, sometimes it needs a little something extra - an accessory, the culinary equivalent of a silk scarf or a fine silver necklace. After poaching pears in a red wine the other night, I had a little of the mascarpone that I served with them left over. And I had a pint of very ripe figs.

I'll probably lose my foodie credentials for admitting this, but I've never had mascarpone straight. I've had it in tiramisu, but never by itself. It's nothing short of amazing; calling it a triple-cream soft cheese does it little justice. It is more like a luscious whipped cream condensed into a spread.

After I halved half the figs and put a dollop of cheese on each, I made another batch of the wine sauce and poured it over. Mmmm, it was almost as good as the pears, the sauce kicking up the sensuousness of the figs to a gasping height.

Lori K's wine sauce
Serves 4

250 ml red wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 small vanilla bean, split

Mix everything in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer until the sauce reduces to about half (this may take up to a half hour). Remove vanilla bean halves. Pour over fruit or ice cream.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Express risotto

Arborio rice
Do you love risotto, but hesitate to make it because of all the time it takes to prepare over the stove? Here's a recipe to do it in the microwave. It still takes at least 20 minutes, but you'll have most of the time to prepare other parts of your dinner while it cooks.

Microwave risotto
4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots or one small onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Stir together the oil, garlic and rice in a medium glass bowl, and microwave, uncovered, for 3 minutes
Mix in the broth and wine, cover, and microwave for 16 minutes. Stir to see if broth is absorbed and risotto is creamy. If it's still too wet, microwave for another 2 to 5 minutes, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve. If it's too dry when you check it and the grains are still firm, add a little broth and return to the microwave for a couple of minutes before adding the cheese.
You can stir in other vegetables or meat, cooked, when you add the cheese.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

E-mail fixed ( I hope)

The coffee cup has gone, but hopefully the e-mail subscription is working now and won't send you to a page in China. (Let's just say I'm not really good with coding and leave it at that. I'll try to stick to writing from now on.)

Tweaking away

If you clicked on the coffee cup to the right and are wondering what happened, please try again later today. I'm trying to get Feedburner to add email subscriptions but it's been giving me trouble. Sorry!

Fish for breakfast

Kippers for breakfast?
Cheap Trick sang about breakfast fish on "Breakfast in America":
Could we have kippers for breakfast
Mummy dear, mummy dear?

So what did the teenagers in our group order for breakfast while we were hiking through England a few years ago? Kippers. And how did they like them? Not.

Fish is a hard sell for breakfast in America, except maybe in Hawaii. (When you're surrounded by fish, it always tastes good.) But when we stayed in Helsinki, the breakfast buffet included several kinds of fish, and all very tasty. Certainly a lot more appetizing than the Russian fried eggs we had been eating for the past couple of weeks by then; the typical Russian way of fixing a fried egg is to put it in a tiny hot skillet with butter or grease, then serve it before the white even has time to congeal. So you had a crusty bottom that was hard to cut even with a knife, and a runny, jiggly top. No wonder keffir is a popular breakfast drink there; the Lactobacillus probably keeps them from getting sick from the raw egg.

But fish is good for you, and to cut it out of your diet for what mom called the most important meal of the day is just foolish. Some traditions aren't worth standing on.

So if you're up for a little adventure, try these salt cod fritters. Salt cod, unfortunately, is sold by the pound, and is quite dear unless you figure that you actually are getting two pounds of fish for your money, since the salt removes the water weight from the cod. The good news is that salt cod keeps indefinitely in your refrigerator, awaiting an overnight soak (and several changes of water if you want to remove all the salt).

Lori K's salt-cod fritters
Serves 2
Salt cod fritters

1/4 pound salt cod
1 small shallot or two scallions
1/4 cup flour
Dash cayenne pepper
1 egg
1/2 large ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the cod overnight. When you awake, drain it, slice it into thin strips, put it back in the bowl and cover with hot water.
Mince the shallot or scallion (using the crisp green part is OK).
Heat about an inch of oil in a cast-iron pot (a deep one will reduce splattering) until hot but not smoking over medium heat. Sprinkle flour with the cayenne pepper in a small deep bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg well. Drain the cod strips and wring out the water, then mince. Mix the flour and the egg, fold in the cod and shallot or scallion. Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil, making sure they don't touch. When brown on one side, flip them over, cook for a few minutes, then drain.
While they're cooking, make the sauce:
Mash the avocado, add the citrus juice, then enough water to make it smooth, and season.
Serve over the fritters. Eat them while they're hot!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peaches and pancakes

Peaches' fuzzy faces are with us for a short time only as fresh, but they drip with delight on that day they are ripe. The day before, they are tart and firm; the day after, mushy and rotting. So carpe persica, and enjoy them while they are at their peak.

Even if your peaches have started on their slide into the slime side, often you can cut out the bad and enjoy the ripe rest of them. Here's a way to turn them into an excellent topping for ice cream, or if you're having pancakes for breakfast, use them instead of, or along with, maple syrup.

Lori K's Peach Jammin'
Serves 2

1 cup of fresh peaches, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon crystalized ginger

Put all the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl and mix well. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and repeat, until the peaches are soft. They will get syrupy as they cook. Serve warm over pancakes or ice cream.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pee Wee's Pit BBQ's last squeal

Hatton Ferry, c. 1910. The last poled ferry
in the United States, it's still in operation.
The recession has been tough on restaurants, especially the small ones. Scottsville, which doesn't have much of a draw outside of the historic Hatton Ferry and canoeing on the James River, had a pretty good barbecue joint, Pee Wee's Pit BBQ, but if you haven't been there in the last five years, you better get down there before the end of the month, because it's closing. They have tasty pulled pork sandwiches, fried chicken and fried pulled-pork-and-cabbage-balls they call pork puppies and serve with a sweet-savory sauce. The one thing they don't have is a pit; the pork's done in a slow cooker. It's open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Convenience ... or flavor?

This headline was the main one on the cover of the Washington Post food section this week. It referred to watermelon (seedless mild ones vs. intensely flavored seeded ones), but it occurred to me that it could be the standard by which to judge all our food choices. Dietitians have been advocating intentional eating (along with 30 minutes of exercise a day) as necessary to keep a healthy weight. To paraphrase Michael Pollan: Eat food, not too much, and enjoy it more.

Preparation is a key to the enjoyment. If you keep that in mind, you've won half the battle our culture is fighting against. We rush, rush to get more done, cutting every corner we can find. The food industry has responded to this, preparing and processing our food so we can get in our mouths quickly. Yet while we are cutting the time it takes to put together our dinners, the industry is cutting corners as well to make a profit.

Good chefs fight against processed foods. No wonder we love to eat out at a good restaurant. The food is spectacularly attractive and tastes great.

And that's why books by chefs sell well. We've eaten it, we want to fix it. Unfortunately, most of the recipes in a chef's cookbook involve intense preparation. And why not? That's what the minimum-wage minions in the kitchen do (besides the dishes... which add up to a substantial number for many of these recipes). And on top of that, some just don't translate well to the home kitchen. I knew from experience that adapting family recipes to feed a hundred or more people takes a lot of tweaking, especially with the spices. And what I learned testing cookbooks over the years is that many chefs find great cookbook writers and testers to produce their works, but others rush to press without adequately testing whether the recipes, even when followed to the letter, will turn out well for their readers.

Good recipes don't need a lot of ingredients to taste great, but the simpler the recipe, the better your ingredients need to be. If you don't enjoy food prep, start with recipes that call for five ingredients or less. Work up from there. Pay attention to how fresh the pepper is as you cut into it to dice it (a good tipoff is the condition of the stem; if the tip is black and shriveled, it's been off the vine for some time), how little flavor the pithy parts contribute (cut them out and throw them into the compost pile),  how a smaller dice exposes more of the surface to flavor the dish. Don't enjoy cutting onions? Goggles work well, but chilling the onion or putting a slice of bread in your mouth before taking out your knife sometimes works as well. Does that garlic that keeps jumping out from under your knife need to be minced? Position the side of your chef knife on top of the clove and give it a good whack with your free fist. Then mince the crushed garlic.

Embrace the prep. If you think of it as the essential element of getting better food into your body, you will value it as much as you value your time. It's when you don't value it that it becomes mere scut work. Cultivate sacredness in your daily meal preparation, and your meals - and your body - will rejoice.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oats on the go

Oatmeal is good for you, whole-grain goodness in a bowl. But hot cereal isn't all that appealing until the temperatures go down. In the meantime, you can get the same benefit from energy bars that list oats as their primary ingredient, but at a dollar or more per bar, the costs can add up. And even if oats is listed first, are you really getting a full serving of the grain, or are the other ingredients cutting into that?

You can make your own at home, using the microwave. To form them, use a sheet of aluminum foil sprayed or brushed with olive oil, or if you have a silicon cookie sheet liner, use that to be even more green.

Lori K's energy bar

1/3 cup of oats (5-minute rolled oats work best)
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts, pecans or walnuts, or raisins or chopped dried fruits, or a combination of these
2 tablespoons honey
Salt to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

Put the oats, nuts and/or fruit in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle with honey. Put in the microwave and cook for 1 minute. Take out and stir with a metal spoon (plastic will melt). Put back in the microwave for 20 seconds. (If you see smoke, remove immediately.) Turn out on a sheet of aluminum foil coated with olive oil, or a silicone cookie sheet liner; do not touch the mixture as it will burn your fingers. Let cool for a minute or two, then fold the sheet over the mixture, and compress it into a roll. Pretend like the mixture is tobacco and the sheet is rolling papers; you want the mixture to be nice and tight. Unroll, push in the ends, then fold the sheet over again and compress as tightly as possible. Cool, then unwrap. Sprinkle on the powdered sugar and roll to coat.

Makes one bar.

This bar is low fat and high in whole grains. If you want more of a protein bar, try this one.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Louie, Louie, crab Louis

If you order crab Louis and the waitress asks what kind of dressing you want on your salad, just walk out the door. Crab Louis has its dressing built into the dish. It is crabmeat. It is lettuce. But it's the dressing that makes it crab Louis.

Crab Louis
adapted from "Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz" by Howard Mitcham (Addison-Wesley, 1978, 180 pages)
Serves 4

1 large head (or 2 small) romaine lettuce
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
1/4 cup tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked clean and squeezed dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the lettuce, remove the coarse ribs and shred. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce or paste, lemon juice, capers and cayenne together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Blend in the lettuce and the crab, gently as not to break it up, until both are well coated. Serve in individual salad bowls.

Homemade mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
White pepper to taste
16 ounces olive or canola oil

Beat together the yolks and the seasoning ingredients. Add the oil, a drop at a time at first, then in a slow, steady stream. Keep beating until all the oil is absorbed. If it curdles, you have added the oil too quickly. Start over with a new bowl and an egg yolk. Beat the yolk, and add the curdled mixture to it slowly. The final mixture should be velvety, creamy and smooth, and it should have a full-bodied zest.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jerry Brown takes the cake

In case you're not on Facebook, or not in the habit of looking at former (and future candidate for) California Gov. Jerry Brown's page, here's the recipe he posted for his mom's banana cake.

Bernice Brown’s Banana Cake
by Jerry Brown on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 5:22pm

½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 and ½ cups sugar
½ cup sour milk (1 teaspoon lemon or vinegar to make sour milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper, the better)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks. Add milk with baking soda. Mix.
Put baking powder in flour, mix in gently. Add vanilla, banana and nuts.
Fold in beaten egg whites last. Mix barely, don’t over beat.
Bake in 3 greased layer cake tins at 325-350 degrees for 30 minutes.


2 tablespoons butter
2 and ½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg (may be eliminated if concerned about using raw egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla
A little cream
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix. Add vanilla. Add cream until frosting is the right consistency to spread.
Make the cake the day before serving.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In praise of hostels

I'm out here on a lovely deck overlooking trees and a small meadow, enjoying my morning coffee as the sun slowly rises, twinkling through dew-kissed leaves. Bees lazily check out the rose-of-Sharon next to the deck, and move on, not finding any blossoms open yet. The chirps of insects and birds intertwine and the air is still cool.

As pleasant as the morning is, my thoughts return to last night's dinner: spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed ravioli and a large salad of heirloom tomatoes, fresh oregano and marjoram, avocado, and butter lettuce, dressed with red wine vinegar and sunflower oil seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper.

I wish I could recommend the restaurant where we dined so simply yet well, but it was no restaurant. We ate in.

And for me, that is the beauty of a hostel: So many options, for a reasonable price. That is why I became a life member of  HI-USA (formerly AYH) many years ago, although sometimes years pass between visits.

Some offer great chances to meet people from all over the world; some are in beautiful spots; some require you to spend early mornings doing chores.

The Harpers Ferry hostel is one of the better ones, with two "family" rooms (for $40 per night for members) with coded locks, a well-appointed kitchen that only lacks sharp knives, an herb garden and selection of dried herbs in the kitchen, and large bathroom/showers segregated by sex. They have lockers available for those in the dorm rooms. The hostel is on a flat area on a hillside, with plenty of parking and room for campers ($10 for adults, less for groups and youth) as well. It has picnic tables, grills and a fire ring for cooler evenings. A nice big supermarket (where we bought the frozen raviolis, lettuce and avocado) is a few miles away in the town of Brunswick. The hostel store keeps a supply of organic canned soups, top ramen, frozen pizzas and ice cream bars for sale; and there's a fridge with free food as well. This hostel also comes with another perk: Free make-your-own pancakes from 7-10 a.m., with raisins and chocolate chips to sprinkle in the batter, and plenty of syrup and soft margarine on the table.

During the summer, it stays open all day, a real convenience for Appalachian Trail hikers who can't time their arrival to precisely 4 p.m. The only chores required are to wash and put away your dishes, and to strip your bed and put the linens and towels in a hamper on your way out.

The guests were about evenly split between youth and older guests; only two, young women from Germany, were backpackers who stopped for a comfortable night with showers.

On the map above (click on it to see it at its full size), the hostel is just south of the junction of Keep Tryst and Sandy Hook Road; you can either drive to the Visitor Center and take a shuttle to the old town of Harpers Ferry (1 on the map) and other sites, or you can walk to the town via the C&O canal path, which has a pedestrian crossing into the town over the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

For more information on the hostel, click HERE. For more information on Harpers Ferry, click HERE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chili? Or just a tasty vegetable stew?

If you've never been to Terlingua, Texas, on the first weekend of November, you don't really know what chili is. Yes, you can buy (click on the book cover above) a copy of "A Bowl of Red," Frank X. Tolbert's bible on the legendary stew, and follow the directions, but to taste, all in one place, the chilies that have been judged the best of their respective communities, and to immerse yourself in the culture of the pod, is an experience not to be missed.

Started in 1967, the cookoff features a number of different chilies, but to be a Texas chili, the mixture must:
  • Not contain beans
  • Not contain anything that doesn't turn red or brown after four-plus hours of cooking.
I love a good bowl of red. But I don't eat that much red meat anymore, and when I do indulge in grass-fed beef from a local farmer, I prefer a nice steak.

So my chili these days is one that will have my Texas friends rolling their eyes. Just taste it, though, before passing judgment. It may not be what you call chili, but you'll have to admit it's a tasty vegetable stew (which is what Frank X. Tolbert reportedly called Dave Chassen's famed Beverly Hills chili, which  contained beans).

Vegetable Chili
Serves 8

1 medium eggplant
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
1 large red pepper, diced or one large jar diced pimientos
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, but reserve the liquid
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 bunch of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Cut eggplant into cubes and sprinkle with salt. After an hour, pat dry. Sauté in 1/4 cup of the olive oil until almost tender and set aside. Add remaining oil and sauté onions and garlic until softened. Add to eggplant. Put on low heat and add all but the last four ingredients. If cooking on the stove, leave uncovered and stir frequently for 30 minutes, then add the last four ingredients and cook for another 15 minutes. If using a crockpot, cover and cook for at least an hour; add the last four ingredients 15 minutes before serving.
Serve over brown rice. Offer shredded cheddar cheese, tiny-diced fresh jalapeños or hot sauce and sliced scallions as toppings, and serve with corn chips or cornbread.

Note: If eggplant is out of season, use a large can of black olives, chopped, and obit the kosher salt.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bacon&eggs alternative

Big breakfasts aren't so big anymore. As much as I love eggs, I don't eat them every morning: one or two times a week, tops. But if you can't face another bowl of cereal, maybe it's time to get a little creative.

I made these potato bites from a large Yukon Gold potato that I had baked extra for a previous dinner, skinned and refrigerated. Once cool, these potatoes are firm and slice easily (white rose and red potatoes would work, too, but not russets). Low-fat cream cheese tastes fine on these. If you've never bought a bag of real bacon bits, you're missing out. They keep for a long time and have a lot less fat than bacon you cook yourself, then crumble.

Using smaller or fingerling potatoes, these would also make super appetizers.

Potato bites
Serves 1-2

1 large Yukon Gold potato, cooked, cooled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons bacon bits
Minced parsley (optional)

Put cold potato slices on a paper-towel covered plate. Top each slice with a teaspoon of cream cheese, made into a little ball, then flattened. Sprinkle with bacon bits. Microwave for a minute or until hot. Sprinkle with minced parsley if desired. Serve.

Sorry I didn't get a good photo of this to post. We ate them too quickly!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Diving into endive, with a scalloped edge

Summer's heat makes it hard to face spending much time in the kitchen, where it can get even hotter than the inferno outside. Yet, one cannot live by grill alone, even though that is tempting.

And salads. Salad after salad after salad is not good for the creative soul, although creativity and a composed salad can lend variety to summer's meals.

For something a little different, try scallops served on endive. To get the whole leaves from the tight little endive, keep trimming from the bottom of the core as you pull off the outer leaves. If the leaves seem a little limp, wrap them in damp paper towels and stick them in the refrigerator for a bit. (Save the small leaves on the core to slice into a salad later.) You can soften the cream cheese in the microwave if you have a soften setting; I zapped it twice at the 1-stick-of-butter setting and it was soft but not melted. As for the scallops, look for the cream-colored and rosy ones; they have a richer flavor.

Serve with saffron rice and sautéed green beans or spinach, and you'll have an elegant dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Diver scallops on endive
Serves 2

1/2 pound medium to large scallops (about 8)
McCormick's mesquite seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces cream cheese
1 large endive, washed and separated into enough leaves for each of the scallops

Wash and dry scallops, set them in a single layer on a plate and season on one side with the mesquite seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, put in the scallops, seasoned side down. Meanwhile, spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese on the endive leaves, and arrange on two plates. The scallops should cook until golden brown on each side and just until firm, about 8 minutes total. Drain on paper towels as you finish preparing the meal, then place one scallop on each endive leaf (they can be picked up and eaten easily). Serve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When new ( Cholula ) is not improved

I really love Cholula hot sauce. For one thing, it's still made in Mexico. And it has that cute little wooden cap. And it's made from arbol and piquin peppers, not Tabasco or habanero. Not that there's anything wrong with the others; it's just my personal taste.

And for years, the bottle has never changed, never updated. I thought it was frozen in time, with the woman on the front always looking a bit weary, but managing a Mona-Lisa smile.

Yet on the shelves this week, next to the original bottles, was something NEW: chili-lime. With a GREEN wooden cap. I had to try it.

Disappointment to the max. Did you ever pick up a packet of Limón at gas station in an area with a high Latino population? It's a lemon-lime salt that you can lick off your hand (and at a bar, you follow it with a shot of tequila). Well, the chili-lime flavor of Cholula tastes like they took the original recipe and dumped in several packets of Limón in it.

At least they didn't mess with the original.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cool coffee treat

News flash: Caffeine can kill you. To find out how much you would need to consume to meet your end, go to in your weight and enter.

So, if you're more than 70 cups of coffee short of your goal, you can try this nice, refreshing coffee drink and live another day. Isn't life grand?

Lori K's nonfat coffee cooler
Makes 3 glasses

4 rounded teaspoons Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso
4 rounded teaspoons Ghirardelli ground sweet chocolate
16 ounces nonfat milk

Fill blender with ice to 24-ounce mark.  Add the instant espresso, ground chocolate and milk. Blend until ice is well crushed. Serve with large straws. About 70 calories per glass.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Palestine on her mind

You probably heard all about the hot water Helen Thomas got herself into with her comments about Palestine. But did you see the Springfield, Ill., State Journal-Register item about her submission to a Women's National Press Club cookbook back in 1961?

The recipe is "Palestine Chicken."

Thomas, 89, was a longtime White House bureau chief for United Press International, columnist for Hearst Newspapers, first female officer of the National Press Club, first female member and a president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, member of the White House Press Corps and is the author of five books.

On May 27, she was outside a Jewish Heritage Celebration Day event at the White House, when she was asked by a rabbi (with a video camera) for a comment on Israel. Thomas said, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”

She resigned from Hearst Newspapers, and her entertainment agency dropped her.

No word yet if she's thinking of another cookbook.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Papadzules

Now that I'm back to blogging on a more regular basis, one of the ideas I had was a weekly entree that didn't involve meat, since that's one of the best ways to cut your food budget without making your family and yourself feel like you're depriving yourself. (If you're already on the Meatless Monday plan, try stepping it up to twice a week.)

This week is one of my favorites, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's a bit on the spicy side, but you can use a milder salsa if you so desire. The pumpkin seed sauce isn't spicy, but a little salty. If you want to make this vegan, use a silken firm tofu instead of the hard boiled eggs. Once you mix the chopped tofu with the salsa, you won't know the difference.

Papadzules (vegetarian enchiladas with pumpkin-seed sauce)
Serves 4


3 or 4 ripe tomatoes
2 cups of water or broth
1 or 2 fresh sprigs of epazote (optional; can substitute cilantro)
1 habanero chile, sliced almost in half; leave stem on and remove seeds
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oil, divided

Bring the first 4 ingredients plus some salt to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Take the tomatoes and habanero out of the broth and set aside. Remove the skin from the tomatoes and discard the skin. Reserve the broth. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet and sauté the onion until soft. Set aside.
Purée the cooked tomatoes and sautéed onion in a blender. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add the puréed tomato mixture and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt to taste.

Salsa de Pepita

1 cup of pepitas (fat shelled pumpkin seeds), toasted until they turn golden
2 cups of broth (reserved from the salsa making, above; may not use all of it)

Strain the broth. Finely grind the toasted pepitas, using either a blender or food processor. Add the reserved broth slowly, until you have a paste. Blend or pulse, slowly adding more of the broth, until you get a saucy consistency. Set aside.


6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
12 corn tortillas, heated until they are soft and pliable
Warm salsa (see above)
Warm salsa de pepita (see above)

Place a warm tortilla on a plate. Put some of the egg down the center of the tortilla, add some salsa, then fold over two opposing edges of the tortilla on top of the egg. Place this bundle on another plate, seam side down. Repeat until you have formed 3 for each serving.

Ladle the salsa de pepita over the top of the papatzules. Then ladle on some more salsa. Serve.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Carnitas: More than just "a little meat"

The last time I wrote something about carnitas, I had several Mexican-American friends tell me that my slow-roast technique was all wrong.

"My mom always used a bottle of Coke in hers. Made them really tender." No doubt the acid in the soda also tenderized the meat, and the sugar probably put quite a nice color on the outside when the meat went into the oven after simmering in the Coke for a few hours. But how traditional can Coke be?

Even the Coke sounded better than the recipe that swore by a milk base and claimed it caramelized after slow cooking (the milk evaporated, then the meat got brown and crispy). I didn't like that at all.

I'm not a real fan of sweet meats; I like my barbecue Texas style, which is hot and smoky and stands alone, no sauce needed. If you want to slather something on it, maybe some more hot sauce. But nothing sweet, not even sweet and vinegary. I've gotten where I enjoy pulled pork, but to me, it's about as close to barbecue as Cincinnati chili is to New Mexican chili.

So I thought about the Coke, but decided instead on beer. And looking at the smiles around the table, I don't think it would have been better with Coca-Cola. (The recipe follows the video of Roy Orbison singing the Coke jingle the last line of this posting refers to.)

Lori K's beer carnitas

1 5-pound pork shoulder (Boston butt)
1 California chili pepper
2 chili arbol peppers
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 Shiner Dark Lager beer
1 tablespoon salt
Ground oregano to taste

Rinse and dry pork. Put chilies in large crackpot and turn on high. Pierce pork in several places and insert garlic cloves. Put pork on top of chilies, fat side up, and add beer on the sides. Sprinkle salt over the top of the pork and sprinkle with oregano. When the pork feels warm, turn down the crackpot to low and cook for 8-10 hours. Drain any liquid, and allow meat to cool. Cut off the fat, cut the meat into chunks, and put in a roasting pan. Season some more if it seems too bland. Turn on oven to 425 degrees. When hot, insert the meat and cook until it sizzles, about 15 minutes. Serve with tortillas, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, cilantro, lime wedges and salsas.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Right out of the box

In my mom's day, it was common for ladies to turn to the boxes of their favorite mixes for new recipes to thrill their snarly kids and bored husbands. Sometimes it even worked. The recipes got passed around, became instant classics, turned into the staples of community cookbooks, then the recipes made it to the next logical step: A packaged mix or frozen dinner. Then out came cookbooks harking back to the "original recipes" and how to make the dish "from scratch."

Then we started to cook fresh and the recipes collected dust.

Today, as I emptied an open box of linguine into my pasta jar, I spied a recipe on the package for linguine with tuna, olives and capers. OK, that sounded pretty good. And it was.

Here's to a new generation of "ripped from the box" recipes.

De Cecco's Linguine with Tuna, Olives and Capers
Serves 6-8

1 pound linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 1/4 tablespoon capers
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small can tuna, shredded with fork

Cook the pasta for 11 minutes in boiling salted water. In the meantime, sauté in olive oil the olives, capers and garlic. Add a few tablespoons of the boiling pasta water, then put in the parsley and some ground pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes, then remove from heat and add the tuna. Drain the linguine and put in a serving dish. Add the sauce, mix well and serve.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A summer favorite - salade Niçoise

Learning that Vino Volo is an airport chain was somewhat of a disappointment, although I'm still glad it's in Dulles. I was beginning to despair of finding anything decent to eat in that airport; that is, anything healthier than a Five Guys burger or hotdog with everything.

The best airport food I can remember having was a salade Niçoise in Denver. I was skeptical if the little French joint could deliver the meal in short order before I had to dash for my flight, but they were johnny on the spot with a generous platter of lettuce and haricots verts topped with a poached salmon fillet instead of the traditional tuna. I continued on my flight feeling healthy and sated.

This main dish salad is a boon for summer suppers, and it's best not to make too many substitutions, since the traditional ingredients go together so well. The most jarring substitution I've seen was, believe it or not, in France; at a large restaurant in Roussillon, the salad came with all the traditional items, but also with a healthy sprinkling of ... canned corn. Since most French people equate corn with pig chow, I can only assume that they felt they were catering to American tastes.

Salade Niçoise, Lori K-style
Serves 2

1 small head tender lettuce, torn, washed and dried
1/2 pound tiny green beans, cooked and refreshed
1/4 cup basic vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 red potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced
1 7-ounce can boneless, skinless Atlantic salmon, drained
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons small black Niçoise-type olives or kalmata olives
2 tablespoons capers
8 anchovies, optional 

Shortly before serving, toss the beans with spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette. Place the potatoes to one edge of the plate, arrange a mound of beans at the other end, with tomatoes in one quarter and the eggs on another (if using anchovies, drape them across the egg quarters). Toss the lettuce with the remaining vinaigrette and put in the middle of the plate, topped with the salmon, olives and capers. Serve.

Lori K's tip for perfect crisp-cooked green beans: Bring water to a boil. Put the beans in a microwave dish. Cover with water and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. Drain and chill. Use within two days. For hot beans, sauté them in a little broth, oil or butter until warm and season to taste.

Photo by Annabelle Breakey, Sunset magazine

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gobble-good meatloaf

A Berkeley friend and Episcopal priest, Kristin Krantz, mostly shares tidbits about her family life and ministry on Facebook, but she surprised me one day with a most unusual meatloaf. She makes it with beef, but said it originally called for turkey, so that's what I used. I think it would be great with ground lamb as well. My substitutions are in parentheses (I didn't have any feta on hand, so I had to modify to use what I had).

It was very tasty, moist and didn't need ketchup. I'll use fresh parsley the next time, maybe plain crumbs and a shallot and spices instead of the crusting mixture (which I was trying to use up, since I don't like it as a meat coating). And definitely the feta, which I adore.

Sundried tomato and feta meatloaf
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs (McCormick's French onion, pepper and herb Crusting Blend)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (3 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb marinated sun-dried tomatoes (sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, at room temp, lightly beaten (1 egg)
1/4 cup olive oil (1 tablespoon olive oil)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (1/2 cup Greek nonfat yogurt)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (1/2 teaspoon)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
1 lb. ground beef (ground turkey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray
In a large bowl stir (or hand mix) the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, eggs, olive oil, feta (yogurt), salt and pepper. Add the meat and combine. Pack the mixture into the pan. Bake until internal temp is 165 degrees, approximately 45 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and let meatloaf rest for 5 minutes. Soak extra fat on the surface with a paper towel.

From Kristin Nelson Krantz**The recipe is for turkey meatloaf, which is why I think there is olive oil in the mix - when I used ground beef I just used a little oil.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Festive fruit tart

Photograph by Lori Korleski Richardson

This fresh fruit tart, with a shortbread base and a key-lime spread, looks pretty any time of the year, but with its blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, it's especially festive and appropriate for Independence Day. Enjoy!

The crust:

1 1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a  12-inch tart pan.
Mix flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Pour crumb mixture into pan. Press firmly and evenly against bottom and side of pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until light brown.
Cool completely before proceeding.

The filling:

1 can nonfat sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces lowfat cream cheese, softened
1 cup key-lime juice

Blend thoroughly the milk and cheese, then add the lime juice slowly until well blended. Spread to about an inch from the edge of the shortbread crust. It may look a little runny, but it will firm up as it chills. You may have an extra custard cup of the filling left over. Chill while preparing the fruit in the next step.

Putting it all together:

1 pint blueberries
1 pint red sweet cherries
4 very ripe strawberries
1 pint raspberries
(You will probably have fruit left over)
1 can of whipped cream

Wash all the fruit. Stem and cut the cherries in half, removing the pits. Cut a cone around the top of the strawberries and remove the green tops. Slice the strawberries vertically almost to the tip, then fan them out and place tip to tip in the middle. Surround the strawberries with a circle of blueberries. Surround the blueberries with a circle of cherry halves, cut side down. Surround the cherries with another circle of blueberries. At the very edge of the shortbread, spray whip cream into rosettes and top each rosette with a raspberry, stem end down.

Serves 12

Friday, July 2, 2010

An oasis in Dulles Airport

After a long flight from Sacramento to D.C., we weren't so much famished as weary as we hit the corridors of Dulles. We passed bars with bar food, several sit-down restaurants with way too many fried entrees.

Then we spied Vino Volo near gate C4. Behind faux wooden shutters lay a quiet, well-lighted corner wine bar with relaxed seating for about 21 at tables and a half dozen at the bar. It had flights of white, red and rose, and extremely friendly waiters and waitresses who weren't too overbearing.

We ordered the salmon rolls, which featured rolls of smoked salmon atop a bruschetta of crab salad, perched on a bed of baby lettuces and sprinkled with caper berries, and a small salad, which had dried cranberries, feta and a nice vinaigrette. With the flight of roses - a Chateau Suau from Bordeaux, a cave from Conde de Subirats and Avondale from South Africa - it made for a light late lunch and really hit the spot for the two of us.

By the time we were leaving around 4, the place was totally crowded, we were sated and ready for our next leg - home to Charlottesville.

Photo of Vino Volo by Lori Korleski Richardson

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Floundering Fishwife

Anytime I've mentioned that we've been to Asilomar, someone always asks if we ate at the Fishwife, which is right across the street. "It's so good!" they exclaim.

Well, almost everyone. Our friend Al said ominously when we told him we would be spending a few days there this week: "You don't want to eat there. There are a lot of better restaurants in the area."

Did we listen? No. We wanted to walk to our dinner, so we threw caution to the winds and walked in.

I now understand the appeal. It's close. And the fish is good, at least my sole piccata was. And if you've spent several days eating the cafeteria food at Asilomar (most conferences include the meal plan to save time), the Fishwife must indeed be a treat.

But after the fish and the fresh sprig of broccoli, well, the rest of the meal tasted blah. The Belize Shrimp tasted surprisingly bland and looked amazingly like the ones out of the bag from Costco. "When I see Belize, I think Marie Sharps," said my dinner companion, referring to the popular habanero-carrot sauce from that Central American country. "This wasn't spicy at all." The black beans were creamy, but the rice? Converted.

As we were leaving, we think we saw what the problem was. See photo below. If you can't buy fresh in the Pacific Grove area, you really aren't trying.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Savory marshmallows

OK, go ahead and laugh: I seem to be posting more since I said I was going on hiatus than before. But that's how it goes when you're cleaning out things.

I found this in my Flip videocam and thought I'd share it. I still haven't seen savory marshmallows on any menus since I tasted these a year ago, but they were super.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lettuce bring back memories

It's hard not to think of lettuce but as a backdrop for salad, a prop for "the goodies" such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, etc. And the lettuce that is picked elsewhere and shipped to where we are shouldn't be expected to be much more than that; the most you can ask of it is to be crisp and bright.

A trip to Provence opened my eyes - yes, even my jaded, Californian I-only-eat-mixed-baby-lettuces eyes - to what a difference it makes when the lettuce comes fresh from the garden only minutes before. We were day hiking near Mount Ventoux and our guides led us up a terraced hill to a stone farmhouse past a corral of goats. As we entered the quaint structure, a peaceful farm woman greeted us and bid us to sit at one of four long, sturdy wooden tables in the great room. She then went into the kitchen and returned bearing only three things: a platter of goat cheeses, from hours old, to aged 3 months; a platter of thinly sliced, salty jambon (ham) and a large shallow wooden bowl of romaine leaves, dressed only with olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs and salt. It was one of my best lunches ever.

The part I remembered most was that the lettuce tasted so ALIVE, that it didn't need a splash of balsamic vinegar to perk it up. The advantage to not using vinegar to dress the salad was that the acid in the vinegar would not ruin the tongue for the light wines we had with lunch. (That is also the reason that many French people serve the salad after the main course, to more fully enjoy the wine with the meal.)

So while the weather is reasonably cool, I grow lettuce in my flower boxes (the photo was taken this morning) where the bunnies can't get to it. I've been just clipping the leaf lettuces as needed for salads, and tearing off a few leafs of romaine for sandwiches and tacos. I'll harvest all of it before I take off for California over Memorial Day, and then plant again the week before Labor Day for the fall crop.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lori K's mac'n'cheese

OK, so that wasn't much of a hiatus. I realized after bringing a dish of what I consider the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had to a party last night that I've never published a copy of it on this blog. So here it is. It's based on the recipe from, the one my friend Lisa calls "crack'n'cheese" because no one can pass up seconds. My version is a little easier because, well, I'm lazier than Martha Stewart. It may also have fewer calories, but not by much.

Lori K's Mac'N'Cheese
Serves 12

Olive oil in spray can
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (you have bread ends? Use those. Pulse in food processor until fine)
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, divided
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
5-1/2 cups 1 percent milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use a pinch if making this for very young or old people)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups of sharp, melting cheese (extra-sharp cheddar gives the dish a good color)
6 ounces grated Gruyere or Gouda
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked until almost done, drained, cooled and separated

Spray a 9x13 pan with olive oil and set aside.
Put crumbs in a small bowl. Melt butter and put 2 tablespoons in bowl with crumbs. Toss until well coated and set aside to cool. When cool, mix thoroughly with the Parmesan.
Heat the milk in a saucepan.
Put the rest of the melted butter in a large, deep pot that can hold the volume of the milk plus the macaroni. Bring the butter to bubbling over medium heat and add the flour. Cook 1 minute then add the hot milk slowly, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pot from heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add the salt and spices to the milk-flour mixture. Whisk until well-blended, then add 3 cups of the cheddar and the Gruyere or Gouda. Stir well until the cheese melts. Add the macaroni to the sauce and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the oiled pan.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, then the breadcrumbs.
Bake until brown on top, about 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, then serve.