Archive for the ‘Holiday and Seasonal Recipes’ Category

Talking Turkey-Thanksgiving side dishes

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

This is my favorite part of preparing a Thanksgiving meal for my family.  It’s all about the veggies, so if you have a few non bird eaters, there is plenty of food for them. How about a Vermont classic, corn fritters, or a cold brussell sprout dish or a squash ratatouille?

Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Start with you basic stuffing recipe and add cooked crumbled sausage, large chopped apples and pecan.  I take a classic green bean casserole and substitute the beans with broccoli (or maybe do both veggies). For the non meat eater, forget the sausage.

Classic Green Bean Casserole

Our everyones’ favorite, garlic mashed potatoes.  Saving calories, making mashed cauliflower gives you the creamy texture without the points.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Whatever your veggie cravings are, check out WWMS side and veggie dishes to add to your Thanksgiving meal.

Talking Turkey Part 1

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Thanksgiving is almost here and for some, cooking a turkey is a daunting task.  But in fact, it’s really one of the easiest holiday meal entrees. First, take a look at your oven and make sure it’s big enough for a whole turkey.  If it’s a small oven , you might consider cooking a whole turkey breast instead of the whole turkey.  If your oven is regular size, choose the turkey size according to the number of guest eating. The basic rule of thumb is 1-1 1/2 pounds per person. I usually go a little more since I like to have leftovers.  Survey the roasting pans for the correct size.  Now all you need is the turkey, small herbs and veggies.  Here’s a video from Chef John at Food Wishes that makes cooking a turkey pretty simple.

So, let’s get cooking.  Check out WWMS recipes for more holiday ideas and tips.

The best lobster bisque … it’s that time again!

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Thinking about making something different for New Year’s Eve? Lobster Bisque is a festive, filling soup that let’s your friends know you care enough about them to make something special. I’m not going to tell you that this is one of our super simple dishes but it is worth the time.

lobster bisque

I can’t take credit for this dish, I’ve taken it from the New Basics Cookbook (the original Silver Pallet writers)  changed a few ingredients.  The complete recipe is in our cookbook but I included a few step by step pictures here to help.

chop tails into 2 inch pieces and find a good fish stock

watch Cindy making roux on you tube

If the lobster is too expensive for your budget try switching out the lobster with crab and shrimp.  This time a year many markets put their frozen shrimp and crabmeat on sale.

after the "meat" is cooked, marinate in Madera or Marsala wine

almost finished, remove the shells, strain and use your emulsion blender before adding the meat back into the soup.

If you do go this route, find a good fish stock to “beef” up the broth. I serve the bisque in a small bread bowl.

Bread Bowls

Hollow the bowls out, reserving the inside bread and warm the “bowls” in the oven.  Scoop a ladle full of bisque into the bowls and place the top and insides on the edge for dipping.  If you get into trouble, shoot us an email. Good luck and have a fun, festive and happy New Years Eve!

Elixirs… Simple Syrup to Make Unique Cordials… Rose, Peppermint and Lemon Balm

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Simple syrup is the base for some wonderful beverages. I really don’t like throwing sugar in anything that doesn’t need it, but the special syrups you can use to flavor your sparkling water or your champagne cocktail aren’t just sugar… And they sure must be better that your cola or other store bought soda with the added caramel coloring and gums and ridiculous preservatives. Just water, sugar, fruit, flower, herbs… Last year I made the Elderflower Cordial. I made that again for my last night at Aromatherapy Class … the exam and last meal together. I met some really cool people there. Unique as ever you would run into anywhere. We all grew up a little together in the process of learning about plant essential oils and the reaction on the human body.

But the Elixer!

First,  making my elderflower… I had noticed that the wild elder flowers were starting to leaf and bloom on the highway as I drove up to San Francisco on Highway 1… awesome commute to the city, with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. At the bottom of Bonny Doon Road where I turn up to my mountain paradise, I have seen the elders flowering here also. I stopped on the highway last year to pick some and stepped into and reached over poison oak to get at the aromatic flowers. Again a hazard at the riverside plants at the bottom of the road, the stinging nettles are around the elder flowers there. I tried to find a way to some plants without the nettles so close, and as I thought I had missed them, sure enough my thumb grazed a hairy stinging nettle stem and my foot, wearing a flat open shoe, brushed against some nettle that I had not seen. So that was an experience. I was worried that the red itchy blisters would be bothering me for days, but before I even thought to put the aloe vera and lavender blend on the rash, it was already diminishing in  intensity. Within hours it was gone. Whew!

So I came home, made my Elderflower Cordial for the class party, and it needed to sit for two days steeping so I was on schedule. Then later, during that sleep challenged night, I thought  wow… I have some blood oranges and wouldn’t they make a beautiful syrup! So I got up and boiled my water, added the sugar and grated the peel of and sliced the naked grated peeled blood oranges and set them in to steep. I had picked some mint that day and so I thought what a nice way to have your blood orange… with mint! And two days later, it was!

And the Color! Brilliant!

I must try it with tequila or vodka for a stronger beverage.

If you come up with some beverage ideas please share them with us.

The aromatherapy class assignment was to make foods and beverages to add essential oils to. essential oils I am learning are very capable of healing our emotions and our bodies. I added a drop of the lemon Essential Oil to the Elderflower cordial, and to the blood orange I added the Peppermint essential oil. Mint is great for the memory, for muscle aches,  and for respiration, clearing the sinuses as for allergy.

Try making an elixer with flowers, fruit, herbs. I am trying Roses and mint and lemon balm right now. I had it for my second aromatherapy class at a pot luck exam day. It was a hit and I didn’t steep it even for 24 hours. I will put the rest back into the refrigerator for a day and see if it draws more rose flavor.

I also tried a syrup made with Kumquats and mint last month that I took to a friends house. Everyone loved it and it is an interesting beverage for children and your friends who aren’t drinking wine. Festive and unique. Elegant in a wine glass or in a tall ice tea glass. A sprig of mint, a slice of lemon or orange, or a flower, violet, pansy, rose… Beautiful!


Just walk out into your garden and pick some roses, some peppermint and that lemon balm that is growing wild everywhere and you keep pulling it out and cutting it back.

Fish on the Fourth…Cedar Planked Salmon

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

It’s the Fourth of July and that means Americans everywhere will be out grilling in their backyards. Cedar planked Salmon is an easy and elegant choice to serve if you are the lucky one hosting a get together this summer.  You can find the cedar planks in many grocery store, fish markets, and gourmet shops.

You need to soak your planks first in some water for at least an hour.  Then you place the raw fish on the plank and place it on your preheated grill.  I like to salt and pepper the fish and serve with fresh dill sauce.  If you prefer you can smear with terriyaki sauce or use a favorite marinade.  You cook the fish covered for about 20 minutes, remove and let sit for 10 minutes.  Serve it right on the plank for an impressive presentation garnished with lemon.  You can serve the fish hot, room temperature or even cold.

Fancy quinoa, potatoe salad, Sal’s cole slaw, and grilled corn on the cob would all be welcome sides at your barbecue.  Fish on the fourth!!

Mother’s Day Inexpensive Brunch Idea

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been another year.  How in the hell did that happen? Life goes by quickly so for that reason only should be enough to enjoy each day as it comes and spend it with the ones you love.  And that means your MOTHER! Having a nice meal with your mother doesn’t mean expensive. Set the table in white using a sheet, cut a few flowering branches from your neighbors bushes and try these super simple salad dishes.Asian Inspired Salad

Hayley’s Couscous and Tofu with Greens

White with queensannelace curtesy of Simply and Forever

Toast up a baguette, open a bottle of sparkling cider or wine and Mom will be impressed! And remember, your mother just wants to hear your voice on that special day.

Avgolemono Greek Chicken Lemon Soup

Friday, April 13th, 2012

In honor of Greek Easter this Sunday I thought I’d make the  classic Greek Chicken Lemon Soup, called Avgolemono.  You don’t have to be Greek or be able to say Avgolemono to enjoy this wonderful lemony soup.  Avgolemono means egg lemon.

Perfect to start a big elaborate meal or serve as a simple supper with some warm pita bread.  This soup is easy to make.  It’s a matter of whisking eggs and lemon juice til frothy, and then whisking them into the chicken chicken broth.  The rice is cooked right in the broth.  These two steps give the soup it’s rich thick and creamy texture.  The lemon zest and eggs give it an appetizing yellow color.

Once you’ve had this soup it will be no wonder as to why it has earned iconic recognition as the most famous traditional Greek soup.  It is unique in flavor and texture and everyone loves it.

If you are a soup person like me please find this Avgolemono and many other great spring soup recipes like Joanna’s delicious vegetarian asparagus soup or my watercress soup.

Happy Greek Easter.  Happy Spring.  Enjoy.

Passover and Easter Eats

Friday, April 6th, 2012

This year Passover and Easter fall back to back.  In my house we used to celebrate both holidays which would make this a grand weekend for family feasts.  There are many traditional foods associated with each holiday to look forward to.  For Passover matzoh is a must!  A brisket or pot roast is often served.  Matzo ball soup is a classic and all time favorite!  One of my favorite Jewish cookbooks is called Mama Leah’s.  She used to have a fabulous home cooking style restaurant on the upper west side, which always hit the spot.  Jewish cooking is always about comfort and tradition.

The rule of Passover is you just don’t want to serve any leavened bread.  The story of Passover is about the exodus of Jews from slavery-and refers to there being  no time to wait for the bread to rise. Jewish households were “passed over” and first born sons were spared from demise.  This is why Passover is an important and festive  holiday for Jewish people.  The traditional Passover dinner is called a Seder.

Easter is a time to celebrate rebirth.  My family always serves lamb which is traditional and easier to make than you may think..  My favorite lamb dish is rack of lamb.  I recommend Mark Bittman‘s recipe who is the the food columnist  of the New York Times Magazine, and author of the acclaimed and classic cook book How to Cook Everything.  Another holiday recipe you might consider is my famous stuffed artichokes which would be the perfect spring vegetable to compliment this Easter feast.  How about some of Sal’s spinach stuffed phyllo dough triangles for an appetizer dipped in some sour cream.  Joanna’s vegetarian asparagus soup adds some spring time freshness to any meal.

Sally’s family serves a ham at Easter time traditionally. Scalloped potatoes Julia Child style go well with ham or lamb.

Don’t fprget Easter is all about eggs.  Simpson’s vege quiche would be a welcome Easter morning treat.

Whatever you do find the time to eat something chocolate for Easter!

Here is Mark Bittman’s recipe for rack of lamb.  Happy Easter and Happy Passover! Enjoy!

  • 1 rack of lamb (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • 1 medium slice rye bread, broken into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 450° F. Trim the lamb of excess fat, but leave a layer of fat over the meat. Cut about halfway down the bones between the chops; this allows the meat between them to become crisp.

2. Put the oil, garlic, paprika and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a food processor and purée; add the bread and pulse a few times to make rough crumbs. Rub this mixture over the meat side of the rack and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and put in the oven; roast for 18 to 20 minutes and insert an instant-read meat thermometer straight in from one end into the meatiest part. If it reads 125° F or more, remove the lamb immediately. If it reads less, put the lamb back for 5 minutes, no more. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve, separating the ribs by cutting down straight through them.

Saint Paddy’s Day-Mexican Style

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Hope everyone had a fun and safe St. Patricks Day.  We were lucky to have some corn beef and cabbage as well as meat and chicken pies for the day in Mexico.  The Shamrock Bar in Bucerias, Mexico goes all out with games and rides for the kids, traditional beer and foods and a local high school band playing Coldplay. Thought I’d share some of the photos from the day.  Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!Shamrock Bar

Me and my Leprechaun

A drunk and a donkey

A riveting game of beer pong

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions; Irish Soda Bread

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

I grew up in a home where St. Patrick’s Day was something akin to Christmas or Easter.  The table was set with a green tablecloth covered with Irish lace, the “good” china and crystal.  Pots of Shamrocks made a centerpiece and there was corned beef and cabbage and green treats for dessert.  Irish music played and Aunt Helen always sang ‘Danny Boy’. As I got older, that tradition was replaced with corned beef and cabbage dinner at an Irish Pub.  The same music played and some drunken idiot always sang ‘Danny Boy’ with tears in his eyes.

Traditions evolve and change, some really should, but I still cook corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Soda bread, toasted and buttered is still yummy.

Traditional Soda bread is simple and bland, nothing more than flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Over the years we have added all kinds of extras, raisins and caraway seeds are my favorites.  I serve it with dinner, but I like it best toasted and buttered with a strong cup of tea.

Soda bread dries out fast, so slice it and freeze it, then you can pull out a couple of pieces and pop them in the toaster for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

As to the left over corned beef, even my grandparents knew it was best with mustard, a kosher dill pickle and a good Jewish rye.

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!