Saturday, December 20, 2014

A cruciferous Christmas

Crown him with many broccoli crowns: A photo from the produce section of Monterey Foods, courtesy of my friend Amy Pyle.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fifteen foods to add to your diet for a healthful 2015

Photo courtesy of
For the full story, go the Huffington Post.

If you just want the list, I'm glad to be of help:

1. Matcha tea (ground green tea with extra chlorophyll)

2. Broccoli sprouts

3. Crickets  (as well as mealworms, locusts, and grasshoppers)

4. Kalettes (a hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale)

5. Plantains (boiled and mashed, not fried)

6. Umeboshi (Japanese fermented plum) paste

7. Watercress

8. Lychee

9. Capers

10. Black-, mung- and garbanzo-bean pastas and flour

11. Khorasan wheat

12. Purple peppers

13. Rosemary

14. Coconut flour

15. Pine nuts (look for ones not from China)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vitamin and supplement info in an interactive graph


I'm glad graphic artists are exploring new ways to convey information in charts. Sometimes the new ways are just confusing and actually worse at conveying the data than a simple bar chart. But sometimes, they come up something that works just amazingly well, like this one, courtesy of Information is Beautiful:

Even better, it's interactive, with links to take you to more information about each bubble.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turning pumpkin pie disaster into a win

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
Pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving tradition. And this year, disaster.

Those of you who have known me or have followed this blog for some time have heard me confess that I am a cook, not a baker. Never was that more apparent than on the morning of Nov. 27, 2014.

Jim and our friend Carla had gone on a country walk, our friend Rob was getting some much needed sleep, and I was doing prep for our big dinner to come. Every thing was going well. I remembered in years past that the recipe on the side of the pumpkin can made WAY too much filling for my 9-inch pie plate and I didn't want to make two crusts. So I thought, why not make the crust in my 10-inch springform pan? I'd done quiches that way and they had come out fine, even though the edge slipped down a bit and dropped over the filling; at least they were easy to cut at the table.

So I found a recipe for an extra crispy crust (a key ingredient: vodka) and proceeded according to directions, but neglected to notice the pie weights (which in my kitchen are dried beans) were supposed to go on top of the foil during the blind bake. So when I took it out of the oven after 15 minutes, the beans decided to stay right where they were. And when I tipped the pan to shake them out, the entire crust came tumbling out. By the time I got it righted and all the beans off, it was in five big pieces and a lot of little ones.

I really didn't have time to start over, since the prep and resting times for it were well over an hour. So I took the pieces, fitted them in the 9-inch pie pan the best I could so that they came up the side but not over, and pressed them together. I took the dough that had been left over, made it into a tight ball and rolled it out. I took one of my small decorative cookie cutters and cut out as many little flowers as I could. I then placed them, overlapping slightly, on the top edge of the pie plate, and pressed them into each other and the piecemeal crust.

Then I took the recipe off the side of the can and modified it thusly. Success!

Lori K's shallow dish pumpkin pie

Serves 8

2 large eggs
1 can 100% pumpkin (15 ounces)
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 ounces heavy cream

Beat eggs until foamy. Add pumpkin and stir well. Add the sugar and spices and stir until combined thoroughly. Add the cream and mix well. Pour into the crust. Cook for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool. I served this with 4 ounces of heavy cream whipped with about a tablespoon of hickory syrup and a teaspoon of vanilla. Be sure to freeze the beaters and bowl for a half hour or so before whipping for the best result.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

And the beets go on...

Something fun to do with the tops you chop off when preparing your beets for roasting or soup. The original tops were sautéed with garlic for a side dish; not sure what I'll do with these little ones. But they make a nice counter decoration, and it's good to watch something grow as the garden is preparing for the frost to come.

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taming the wild buffalo wing

Photo by Lori Korleski Richardson
For those who aren't baseball or sports fans, we are getting nearer to the World Series, and once again, San Francisco is in contention. (Not to be totally biased to the West Coast, Baltimore is also doing well.) Although one-third of my household is nutso over the Giants, we have never plunked down the big bucks for cable, and for most of the year, that works out well, since the subscription is reasonable and we can throw up the Internet on our HD TV. But playoffs are a different story, so last night, Jim called up "Top 10 Sports Bars in Charlottesville," and we headed over to a place we know has plenty of parking, Buffalo Wild Wings.

The last time I had a bucket of wings, they came out hot and lightly sauced, and served with a side of blue cheese dressing and more hot sauce, some carrots and celery sticks.

Buffalo Wild Wings has a variety of sizes and a whole menu of heat choices, which we didn't bother to peruse before ordering. I mean, the game was on and we were focused. So we just ordered a plate of medium boneless chicken, with hot sauce.

The boneless chicken wings arrived, hot and just dripping with gooey sauce. I popped one in my mouth.

I want to tell you that I am a Texan native, born in Lone Star State and proud of it. I have eaten chili that could put hair on anyone else's chest. I add Cholula or Tabasco to my eggs. I once won a jalapeño-eating contest. When it comes to hot and spicy, I have never been a wimp.

I almost had to spit out that hunk of chicken. My eyes teared up so bad that it looked like Hunter Pence was wearing long pants. Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. I think I ate one more before admitting defeat and calling our waitron back. "I need a small order of the mild wings," I managed to gag out between cooling intakes of air. "And a to-go box for these."

The Giants won last night, 5-4. Super game. But this is a food blog, not a sports show.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years, the heat of jalapeños and habaneros often mellows overnight. And as hot as those chunks of white meat were, that's exactly what happened the next day.

When I got home, I wiped off as much sauce as I could and blotted the "wings" with paper towels and  put them in the fridge. Around noon today, I got out three of them, heated up a small pot of canola oil over medium heat and fried them for 2 minutes on one side and 90 seconds on the other. They were heated through, still nicely spiced, but crunchier and slightly drier than they had been the night before. But I ate all three without breaking a sweat. My tongue, thoroughly recovered from last night's scorching, was smiling now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mud soup

In honor of Carolyn Kizer, Dec. 10, 1924-October 9, 2014, an excerpt from her poem, Mud Soup, from Saturday's New York Times:
Sauté pork and add the veggies,
Add the garlic, cook ten minutes,
Add to lentils, add to ham bone;
Add the bay leaf, cloves in cheesecloth,
Add the cayenne! Got no cayenne!
Got paprika, salt, and pepper.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer.
Did I say that this is summer?
Simmer, summer, summer, simmer.
Mop the floor and suck the finger.
Mop the brow with old potholder. ...
Tastes like mud, the finished product.
Looks like mud, the finished product.
Consistency of mud the dinner.
(Was it lentils, Claiborne, me?)
Flush the dinner down disposal,
Say to hell with ham bone, lentils,
New York Times recipe.
Purchase Campbell’s. Just add water.
Concentrate on poetry:
By the shores of Gitche Gumee
You can bet the banks were muddy,
Not like Isle of Innisfree.

To read the obituary, a subscription may be required.

The poet Carolyn Kizer in the library of her home in 1998. CreditPeter DaSilva for The New York Times


Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween party appetizer

Love this idea for dressing up deviled eggs for Halloween. It's from the food blog, Delicious as It Looks, by Diane B., a woman with irritable bowel syndrome. Just as she was posting it last year, she discovered she was intolerant to eggs. Sad, indeed!

To do this, for each deviled egg half, take a black olive (not Kalmata), and cut it lengthwise in half. Put one half in the middle of the egg. Cut the remaining half into 8 slices. Put four slices on each side of the olive. Voila! Spiders.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smoked trout salad with raspberries

What a great day: A friend's garden is in overdrive, so she shared the bounty with me.

Fresh, crisp red sail lettuces on the cusp of bolting.

Small, purple-perfect eggplants.

A cup of tiny raspberries.

Green pepper, large and small, sweet bell and a jalapeno-scotch bonnet mix.

And in the fridge from the City Market yesterday:

A local smoked trout, a cucumber, some shallots.

On hand: Always mustard. Always a lemon. Always extra-virgin olive oil. Always Celtic sea salt. Always pepper. And an open jar of tahini.

So I made a great salad with the lettuces, cucumber, raspberries and the trout, and dressed it with a vinaigrette of EVOO, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and shallots, then sprinkled it with the Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper.

With the eggplant, tahini and lemon juice, I made baba ghanoush.

Baba Ghanoush
adapted from "Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook" (Norton, 1985, 728 pages)

1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds)
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
(if you want a more intensively lemon-flavored dip, add a slice of preserved lemon)
1 large clove garlic
¼ cup onion or shallots, chopped
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Take the green top off the eggplant, cut it in half and slice it into 1-inch half rounds. Salt with kosher salt and let stand for 45 minutes to an hour. Wipe off the moisture and the salt. Place eggplant slices on oiled cookie sheet.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 20 minutes, turning halfway.
When cooled, remove the flesh from the eggplant, discarding skin (and seeds, if you want it very smooth. I kind of like the seeds).
Blend ingredients 3-5 in a food processor. Add eggplant. Pulse until well-blended.
Transfer to a small bowl and garnish with parsley. Cover and chill. Serve with pita quarters, or as a dip with vegetables.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trader Joe's doesn't know beans about lentils

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
I was going to make a refreshing green lentil salad from Patricia Well's "The Provence Cookbook" last week. Jim said he would go to Trader Joe's and get what I needed. Well, he came back with a bag that said "Small Whole Green Lentils." They didn't look very green to me, but I thought maybe it was just a variation in color.

No. They are not little green lentils, as you can see by the photo above. They cooked up exactly like regular lentils, only smaller, too mushy for salad use.

Luckily, the ones I ordered through Relay Foods were the correct ingredient, and that salad was excellent.

I sent in a product feedback form to Trader Joe's. We'll see if anything is done about this misrepresentation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Odd fruits and vegetables get new life

If France can do this, why can't we? It certainly would go a long way in providing food security for everyone.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Just peachy salad

Inspired by a macerated peach dessert prepared recently at the Charlottesville Cooking School, this salad is a delightfully fresh way to welcome summer.

It is at once tangy and a little sweet, but not enough to overwhelm the lettuce and other vegetables.

The avocado also gives it a rich mouth feel.

Just Peachy Salad
Serves 2

1 very ripe peach (skin should peel off easily)
6 basil leaves, chiffonaded
1 tablespoons nectarine vinegar
½ teaspoon raw sugar
½ avocado, diced
1 small seedless cucumber, sliced
½ head romaine heart. torn into bite-size pieces
2 mini red bell peppers, sliced into rings
Handful of microgreens such as mache or tatsoi, or sprouts
Fleur de sel or other tasty salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Peel and de-stone peach; chop roughly. Add basil, vinegar and sugar and marinade for about 15 minutes in the salad bowl while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Add the avocado to the peaches and mix well. Then add the other vegetables, salt to taste, then pour on the oil. Toss until well coated, then serve.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Savory tart centerpiece of vegetarian meal

Photographs ©2014,  Lori Korleski Richardson
Now that we're back from vacation, it's time to get back to the gym and start eating better.

One way to make sure we get the variety of vegetables that are the key to good health is to have at least one vegetarian meal a week.

Tonight's was a savory chard and onion tart, with a side of carrot salad on a bed of arugula.

I made the tart in a 10-inch spring-form pan for easier serving (it also looks good enough to serve to company that way, especially decorated with nasturtiums from your herbicide-free garden. The cheery salad is a simple and delicious Alice Waters creation that depends in large part on the freshness of the carrots, parsley and lemon, and the quality of the olive oil.

Savory chard and onion tart

Ingredients for crust
1 ¾ cups flour
pinch kosher salt
1 stick (4 ounces) frozen unsalted butter, grated into small curls
Ice water

Instructions for crust
Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and grate in the frozen butter; mix with two knives or a pastry blender until texture resembles stone-ground cornmeal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, mixing with a fork, until the dough comes together. You may need to add another tablespoon or two. Handle dough as little as possible, form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough and place in a 10-inch spring-form pan or 9-inch tart pan. The dough sides need to be at least an inch deep. Refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Ingredients for filling
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large finely chopped onion
1 pound chard, stems removed, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces chèvre or ricotta
¼ cup evaporated milk or cream
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (or to taste)
Dash cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Instructions for filling and assembly
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, then add the onion and cook until it is soft and golden, add the chard, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool as you preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the eggs, cheeses, milk or cream and nutmeg, then add the cooled chard-onion mixture. Pour into the crust, sprinkle with the nuts and bake 45 minutes. Serves 4 as an entree, 8 as a side dish and 16 as an appetizer.

Alice Water's Spring Salad
Serves 2

1/2 pound of carrots, peeled and shredded
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon white sea salt or kosher salt
Juice of one lemon
¼ teaspoon cayenne or paprika
¾ cup good quality olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley

Put the carrots in a mixing bowl. Mash the garlic and the salt into a paste. Mix it with the lemon juice and any spices you are using. Toss with olive oil; add parsley at end. Chill.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Shiso, funny

Shiso, prepared for ochazuke. Photographs ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
Looking for ways to use the bunch of shiso I picked up at the farmers market last week, I ran across an video series called "Cooking with Dog" (no, dog is not one of the ingredients).

As the cook shows how to prepare a recipe for ochazuke featuring salmon and shiso, her trusty and well-coiffed gray miniature poodle sits on the counter, or perhaps a stool, next to her, very nicely behaved.

It must be seen to be believed. Click here to view. As a bonus, you will learn how to prepare a recipe. Bon(e) appétit!

Serves 1

This is a good way to use leftover rice. It's said to be especially good after a night of drinking.


For first bowl
1.75 ounces salted salmon fillet
1 tablespoon sake
Toasted white sesame seeds
Hojicha or other type of Japanese green tea
Scoop of steamed rice
Toasted nori seaweed, sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon salmon roe marinated with soy sauce based seasoning
1 tablespoon cilantro (Chinese parsley)

For second bowl 
Scoop of steamed rice
1 pickled Japanese plum, stone removed and flesh chopped finely
1 tablespoon shirasu whitebait
2 tablespoon chopped takana-zuke - pickled takana greens
2 shiso leaves, stems removed, cut in half vertically, then sliced thinly at an angle horizontally
Hojicha  or other type of Japanese green tea
Toasted white sesame seeds

Topping Suggestions
Toasted tarako - salted Alaska pollock roe
Salted kombu seaweed
Ika Shiokara - salted semi-fermented squid
Tsukemono - Japanese pickles
Arare - bite-sized Japanese rice crackers


Put the salmon fillet in a bowl and sprinkle the sake over both sides.
Heat a pan over medium heat. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Sauté until brown, removing excess fat with a dry paper towel, and flip it over. Reduce the heat and sauté the other side. When both the sides are browned remove the fillet. Cool.
Toast the sesame seeds in the pan and put it in a mortar. Grind the sesame seeds.
Make the green tea in hot boiling water.
Place the steamed rice in a bowl and sprinkle the nori.
Remove the skin and the bones from the fillet. Roughly crumble the fillet and place the salmon on top of the rice along with the roe and cilantro. Add tea. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds and add a dab of wasabi. Serve.
For the second bowl, place the steamed rice in a bowl and sprinkle the nori. Make another cup of green tea. On top of the nori, put the plum, whitebait, takana and shiso. Pour the tea over and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve.

Use other toppings as desired.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Breakfast blossoms

In "Rancho Cooking" (Sasquatch Books, 2001, 238 pages), Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, an eighth-generation Californian, mentions that her people loved squash blossoms more than they loved squash itself, and although I'm fond of squash almost any way one cooks it, I would have to agree.

You usually don't find squash blossoms in the grocery store; they are fragile and don't take to handling and transport well. But those big showy male flowers are wonderful in a number of recipes. I found them at the farmers market in Sacramento yesterday, along with a long stemmed spring garlic and some beautiful maitake mushrooms, also known as hen of the woods.

This morning, I made omelets with them. Unfortunately, we were so hungry, we ate them before I had a chance to take a photo. If I make them again tomorrow, I will photograph them before we eat.

Lori K's Squash Blossom Omelet 
with Maitake and Spring Garlic
Serves 2-3


⅛ pound maitake mushrooms
1 clove spring garlic, crushed and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 squash blossoms
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a 12-inch crepe or omelet pan over medium-low heat. Swish the butter stick over the bottom of the heated pan, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until softened, then remove from pan and set aside.

While the mushrooms are cooking, twist the stems off the blossoms and remove them and the pistil and throw that part in the compost. In a separate bowl, beat the three eggs until smooth.

After removing the mushrooms from the pan, add the oil, swish it around and place the flowers in it with the stem areas near the middle. When they have wilted, turn them over.

Add the beaten eggs, swirling the liquid gently around the blossoms as not to disturb them. When they have mostly set, sprinkle the mushrooms over and season to taste. When the edges start curling up a bit,  flip in half, then split the omelet and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An anniversary dinner to remember

Detail of wallpaper at
Chez Panisse.
Photograph ©2014,
Lori Korleski Richardson
We were due to be in Berkeley on the day of our 25th wedding anniversary, so there was one restaurant that immediately jumped to the top of our list: Chez Panisse.

And we were not disappointed. Although a printed menu comes to each table, there was more to each dish than what was described. Each course seemed somewhat small, but by the time we were done, we were quite full. We ordered a glass of Spanish sparkling rosé (a 2011 Cava Rosado) for each of us to start, then I had a glass of chardonnay (2010 Votes du Jura, Peggy et Jean-Pascal Buronfosse, France) with the fish course, and Jim had a pinot noir (2011 Ponzi Tavola, Willamette Valley) with the duck (we shared sips).

After we were seated in a room that had been redone after a fire closed the restaurant last year, and presented with menus and a wine list, a basket of rustic whole wheat and a pain d'epi came, with a small butter bell and some fleur de sal. A server then came by with a few green, unpitted olives that had been marinated in orange and lemon zest.

 Here are the menu items, followed by photos.

Porcini mushroom and celery salad with fava beans, mint and new garlic vinaigrette. The favas were mashed and spread on a delightful crostini; the sprouts and radish were also nice additions. Much to my delight, the celery was absolutely fresh and not overpowering in quantity.

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
King salmon in saffron brodetto with agretti greens. The broth was made from halibut and the little yellow orbs were cooked and peeled yellow cherry tomatoes. The poached squid was amazingly tender and tasty. Agretti is a salt-tolerant plant that is native to the Mediterranean, but tonight's greens were locally sourced. They had the look of rosemary, the taste of spinach and the texture of a delicate seaweed.

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
Grilled Salmon Creek Ranch duck breast and leg with sage and pine nut salsa, wild rocket and squash tian. As you can see from the photograph, a couple of spears of peeled asparagus slipped in, along with a generous grate of parmesan. The sage was muddled with the pine nuts, rendering it an amazing seasoning for the duck. The leg was exceedingly rich, having been cooked confit style then crisped, while the breast was grilled in the fireplace until just warm. It was so melting tender that practically dissolved on our tongues. The tian was like a light, crustless quiche. Side note: Wild rocket, indeed. Just try keep arugula in the garden.

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson

Star blueberry tart with candied Meyer lemon.

I stopped taking photographs before dessert arrived, so I'll try to describe it the best I can. The tart was a slender slice, with a light, whole wheat crust. The candied Meyer lemon was in tiny bits scattered on a side drizzle of honey and a goodly number of raspberries. On the other side was a dollop of vanilla-bean crème anglaise. It was pure heaven.

After dinner, our server stopped by with the restaurant's version of an Almond Joy: two tiny coconut macaroons and two almonds dusted in cocoa.

What could we say but yum! And we'll be back well before we celebrate our 50th.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not carrot sticks - carrots ON a stick

Back in 2006, when Barry Beisner was ordained a bishop and consecrated as the head of the Diocese of Northern California, I was put in charge of food for a party for "somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people." It was going to be lunch, and I wouldn't know the precise number until the Sacramento Convention Center was filled and heads counted, around 11 a.m.

I had a great helpmate in this, Nan Wyant, who spent countless hours on the phone making arrangements for water deliveries, party goods, and the myriad details so I could focus on the food. And what a great group of volunteers we had at Trinity Cathedral. We arranged everything so no utensils were needed, and set up seven lines of tables with identical food on each to move the crowd quickly through the hall and back outside, where the entertainment was set up.

The main dishes weren't too hard. We had spicy meatballs on a stick with a yogurt sauce; curried chicken tenders on a stick with peanut sauce; fried tofu squares with sweet Thai chili sauce. We had cheese plates with crackers and snacks outside. We had lots of cold vegetable platters with blanched green beans, pepper strips, radishes, zucchini rounds, snow peas, celery sticks and dip.

But cooked vegetables on a stick? I settled on Moroccan Carrots. As long as you don't overcook them, they stay on a toothpick well, and we put them in little 2-ounce cups. They were a hit.

Moroccan Carrots
adapted from Joyce Goldstein, author of "The Mediterranean Kitchen"
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 ½ cups (about ½ pound), cut into coins (slices)
⅓ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons dried currents, soaked in hot water
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Chopped parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the sugar spices and carrots and stir for a few minutes. Add the orange juice and the currents with some of their soaking liquid. Bring to a boil. Quickly reduce heat an simmer, covered, until the carrots are just tender. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with parsley.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mom's mystery torte still a winner

Several years ago, I shared my mother's Mystery Torte in The Sacramento Bee, but a search on turns up nothing with my byline anymore. (After five years away, it's like my 21 years at that newspaper never happened.) 

For a good long time, the 3x5 card that had the recipe on it was nowhere to be found, and I wasn't the only one who missed it. While cleaning out my email, I came across a friend's lament that he had not saved The Bee with the recipe, and would dearly love to have it if it ever turned up.

Here you go, Fred! And if Nancy doesn't want to share her sticky toffee pudding recipe, that's OK; I'd love to have her make it for us the next time we're in Sacramento.

Mystery Torte
Serves 8

From the recipe box of Attie Ardoin Korleski. Source unknown (it's a mystery!). If you don't have an 8-inch pie tin, use a 9-inch; it won't be as thick, but still very tasty. 

16 Ritz crackers
2/3 cup walnuts 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream
Sugar to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll crackers, grind nuts and mix together (or put both in a food processor and mix until you can't tell them apart). Set aside. 

Mix baking powder and sugar. Set aside. 

Beat egg whites until stiff; add sugar mixture slowly. When done, fold in the cracker-nut mixture and add vanilla. Pour into lightly greased 8-inch pie tin. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely (but do not refrigerate yet).

Use the last two ingredients to make whipped cream. Push down the thin top layer of the torte, then spread the whipped cream on top, taking care not to lift any of the crumbs from the top while you are spreading the cream. Put in the refrigerator and chill for at least three hours before serving.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When is balsamic just a cheap imitation of the real thing?

Good to know, from Good Stuff NW:

Bottles of balsamic vinegar on store shelves labeled "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena" are a commercial grade product made of wine vinegar with the addition of coloring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like guar gum or cornflour.

Authentic balsamic vinegar, labeled "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena," is produced from the juice of just-harvested white grapes (typically, Trebbiano grapes) boiled down to approximately 30% of the original volume to create a concentrate or must, which is then fermented in a slow aging process which concentrates the flavors.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Real spaghetti carbonara

In Virginia, you can find pork jowl bacon in the stores, and this is a great use for it. This has been one of my favorite dishes for years, because I usually have most of the ingredients on hand (although sometimes I cheat and use cooked bacon crumbles, which I keep in the freezer after opening).

If anyone can point me to a source for pork jowl in Sacramento, I'd be most appreciative.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

In full cauliflower

Cauliflower is perhaps the mildest of the cole family vegetables, and that makes it a good entry vegetable if you can't seem to bring yourself to eat broccoli or despise the smell of cooked cabbage. And this soup, which my friend Bambi Nicklin featured on a Facebook posting recently, makes the nutritious vegetable even more inviting. I served it with fried calamari (recipe below the soup) for a good, gluten-free meal. If you want to stretch this out to serve four people, add some appetizers and a salad.

Bambi's Cauliflower Soup
Serves 2

Cook a cored cauliflower in broth until it's very soft. Remove from broth with a slotted spoon and blend with a little broth until smooth. Return to pot. Add 3/4 cup finely grated cheese and dried thyme and whisk to blend the melted cheese. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup peas for 2 minutes in the microwave. Whisk in about 1/3 cup sour cream and add the peas.

Lori's note: I didn't have any sour cream on hand, so I used Mexican table cream instead. It was delicious.

Crispy Calamari
Serves 2

1 pound small calamari
½ cup rice flour
2 teaspoons Mas Guapo or other spicy salt

Clean calamari and cut into rings. Drain well. Mix the flour and seasoned salt together. Dredge the calamari in the flour and shake off excess. You can do this in advance.

When ready to cook, bring the calamari to room temperature. Over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet, heat about ½-inch of canola oil. When hot, add rings in small batches so they aren't crowded. Cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes, then drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back up to temperature before adding more. Serve with lemon wedges or your favorite sauce.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hollandaise starts with a Mexican morning

Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson
My Food and Wine newsletter this weekend contained a most intriguing sauce: Avocado Hollandaise. I love poached eggs, but don't often eat them a la Benedict because of the copious amount of butter that goes into the topping. This sounded much healthier, and easy enough to do on a weekday.

I made the sauce while waiting for my Virginia ham slices to cook to a caramel perfection, today using a layer of orange juice in the pan (the package said to use cola or brown sugar and water).

I found that English muffins now come in a higher fiber, multigrain version, and they were quite tasty. Jim toasted them as I poached the eggs in boiling water to which I added a little salt and lemon juice.

Here's the recipe for the sauce:

Avocado Hollandaise

Serves: 4

1/2 very ripe medium Hass avocado, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Poached eggs, for serving

In a blender, combine the avocado and lemon juice with 1/3 cup of hot water. Puree until smooth and light in texture, about 2 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil and purée until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the hollandaise over poached eggs.

Blogger's note: Your avocado half may be larger than the one tested. If your purée isn’t moving after 2 minutes, add a little more hot water until it does, then add the olive oil, salt and pepper.

From Food and Wine, contributed by Kay Chun
Photograph ©2014, Lori Korleski Richardson

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vaccinate, yes - salt, maybe

Image by Images
In this week's Science magazine, a study suggests that a buildup of chloride levels in rodent fetuses damages their developing neurons, and prevents a switch that moderates the extreme activity from engaging in newborns, thus triggering autistic behavior. The report focuses on the use of a chloride-lowering drug, bumetanide, that seems to be helpful even after the young have developed autistic symptoms.

Fifty or 60 years ago, doctors used to recommend that women cut out extra salt (sodium chloride) in their diet, to ease the swelling and risk of pre-eclampsia, but lately, doctors have advised women that they should stick to their regular diets during pregnancy - and we know how much salt is in fast food and processed foods. Is it too much? Could it be the trigger?

Anecdotally, my mother kept to a salt-free diet while she was pregnant with me and had no problems with delivery. When my dad returned from Japan, she couldn't keep to the salt restriction, and they had to use forceps to deliver my brother.

Growing up, we all had to be vaccinated, and many of those vaccinations, such as for small pox and polio, were done in school. I cannot recall any autistic kids, although I had several classmates with other mental disabilities.

I didn't have my first taste of McDonald's until I was in my teens. But we probably got plenty of salt from canned goods, sauerkraut, cured ham and sausages.

Although I suspect a link to high salt consumption and autism spectrum disorders, more study needs to be done. I don't have the same wariness of vaccination; the overwhelming good vaccines do outweighs the fear that they may do harm, and so far, scientific studies have not linked them to autism.

Here's the news release on the study:
A drug given to pregnant mice with models of autism prevents autistic behavior in their offspring, a new report shows, and though the drug could not be administered prenatally in humans (there is no way to screen for autism in human fetuses), clinical trials of this drug administered later in development, in young children who have already developed autistic symptoms, are showing progress. The causes of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, are complex. Prolonged excitation of brain neurons seems partly to blame. Thus, GABA - the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain - has drawn attention; GABA typically excites neurons in the brain of a growing fetus and then quiets them during birth, a switch mediated by oxytocin from the mother, and one that has a protective effect. But in autism, this switch doesn’t happen. The neurons remain excited because chloride - a key signaling molecule - builds to higher concentrations than it should. In the aforementioned clinical trials, a chloride-lowering drug called bumetanide appeared to have restored the GABA switch in children with ASD, reducing the severity of both autism and Asperger syndrome. To better understand if bumetanide affects the cellular processes that underlay the GABA switch in the way they believed it did (by lowering chloride levels), and to determine whether restoring the switch alone could reduce autistic symptoms, Roman Tyzio and colleagues (several of whom had been involved in the trials) studied two rodent models of autism. Oxytocin didn’t signal from mother to baby in the pregnant rodents, the researchers found, and as a result, chloride built to higher concentrations than it should have inside fetal neurons. By injecting the mothers with bumetanide, however, the researchers were able to reduce chloride levels to their appropriate amount - and in turn, to restore the GABA switch. Critically, mouse offspring exposed to this treatment didn’t demonstrate traits of autism. This study provides support for use of bumetanide in ongoing clinical trials in young children who have already developed autistic symptoms. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Eggs-actly why do Americans refrigerate eggs?

Penny, Betty and Veronica, ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
As a home poultry keeper, I was told NOT to wash eggs and that they would keep much longer unwashed. (Not that I ever got too many eggs.) So it always made me wonder why commercial egg producers did so. I figured that the hens were kept in such squalor that it was necessary.

But the real eye opener in the article below was that there is actually a vaccine against salmonella and that it's not required in the United States. Really? When you have to search for chicken feed that doesn't have antibiotics? When we've had so many cases of salmonella that almost no one makes a good Caesar salad dressing anymore and all eggs (low in fat and a good, inexpensive source of protein) are suspect?

In a somewhat related vein, how can my dog be vaccinated for Lyme disease, and although I live on property frequented by deer, and have found several ticks on me, there's no vaccine for me?

The egg article is here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I yam what I yam

There's not much data that links this chemical with cancer, but I think the kid has a point.