Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cooking class at Williams-Sonoma- A good menu for summer

I am lucky enough to teach some cooking classes at Williams- Sonoma.  Some technique classes are born in the test kitchens and then available at each W-S store but this week I had a private class.  On the menu:

Crab cakes with roasted red pepper aioli
Key lime pie

Let's start with the Vichyssoise - tres Francais!

Vichyssoise is a version of potato leek soup.....only cold and with cream....very refreshing on a hot day and really easy to make

Vichyssoise with fresh chives

Vichyssoise, mis en place

leeks - 4, use whites only, clean if necessary, slice very thin
potatoes - 2 med or several small, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled if necessary (these didn't need peeling)
        and cut into 1 " size cubes
chicken broth - can use vegetable- 3 cups
butter - 2 Tbs
olive oil - 2 Tbs
half and half - 2 cups
sea salt - about 1 tsp
white pepper- ground - about 1 tsp
fresh nutmeg - about 1/2 tsp
fresh chives, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears
fresh tarragon for a second herb flavor


In a 3-4 qt saucepan melt the butter and add the olive oil on medium heat
Add leeks and sauce until translucent- about 5 minutes
sautéed leeks

Add potatoes and broth
Bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender
leeks, potatoes and broth
Add salt and pepper
You now have potato leek soup.  Delicious just as is
but for Vichyssoise:
Puree in a blender or food processor in small batches with the feeding tube lid off until smooth
Adjust seasoning
Place in fridge for several hours or overnight to chill

To the cold pureed soup
Add nutmeg
Whisk or stir in 2 cups of half and half
Garnish with fresh chives ( and try some tarragon)

Bon Appetit!!!!

Crab Cakes:

crab cakes with red pepper aioli
This recipe is a mix and match of a lot of recipes.  Just use it for a guideline.  For 6-8 crab cakes you need 1 pound of good lump crab, 1 cup of breadcrumbs and 2 eggs.  Adjust your quantities according to how many cakes that you want to make

Recipe - crab cakes

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
3 scallions, green and white, chopped fine
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pound lump crab meat, drained
1 cup bread crumbs ( I used sourdough but can use any kind including Panko)
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
oil for frying with a high smoke temperature- peanut, avocado, canola


In a large fry or saute pan place the butter and oil, scallions, red bell pepper, parsley, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and cook until the veggies are soft, about 5 minutes
Cool to room temperature
In a large bowl break the lump crabmeat into small pieces and toss with the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard and eggs.
Add the cooked mixture and mix well
Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
Shape into 3-4" cakes

In a large fry or saute pan add 4 Tbs (1/4 cup) oil
Add the crab cakes and fry for 4 minutes on each side until browned.
Drain on paper towels
Serve immediately with aioli or keep warm in oven (250 deg) until ready to serve

now the Red Pepper Aioli


garlic, 2 cloves
2 red peppers, blistered
1 jalapeño pepper, blistered
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs good olive oil
any red pepper

Place peppers right on the stove grid over a high flame and blister until skin is charred
Place hot blistered peppers in a wet towel and let the water in the towel steam the skin loose from the pepper. Let rest at least 5 minutes
When cool peel blistered skin and remove seeds and membranes
Cut into 1 " pieces


In a small food processor place garlic and process until fine.
Add pepper pieces and process again until pureed
Add mayonnaise and process again until well blended
With the motor running add the 2 Tbs of olive oil to the lid of the processor and allow the oil to "drip" through the holes in the lid and emulsify with the other ingredients

Usually no salt and pepper needed

A little bit of Southern perfection!!

And the best is last:

Key Lime Pie

of course with fresh whipped cream

got to love the dessert plate
I have used the recipe from the food network website from Joe's Stone Crab
I looked and looked for Key limes but had to settle for regular limes
As always use the best ingredients that you can find: organic limes, good eggs (I'm so lucky mine are fresh from the back yard) and don't skimp on the whipped cream.  Make it from scratch.  It's easy and fabulous.

For the crust :
Graham crackers: 1 paper wrapped package graham crackers ( 1/3 of a 1 pound box) or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbs of graham cracker crumbs
Butter - 5 Tbs melted
sugar- I love raw unbleached - 1/3 cup
crust mis en place

Preheat oven to 350 deg
Butter a 9" pie plate or pan
In a food processor crush the graham crackers until fine
Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse or stir until combined
Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a border around the edge.
crust ready for oven
Bake for 8 minutes
Set to cool on wire rack but
keep oven on

for the filling:

egg yolks - 3
lime zest - of 2 limes
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
lime juice - 2/3 cup - this was about 6 regular limes- grate the zest before squeezing the limes
filling mis en place
lime juicer

Next time you are in W-S or online order this one.  It's so worth it.  Also one for lemons which you will most likely use more and even one for grapefruit.

In an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy - 5 minutes-
Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick 4 minutes longer
Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined.  No longer.
Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
Bake 10 minutes or until filling has set
Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate
Optional: Freeze for 15 minutes before serving
Ready for the oven

baked and set

and the Whipped cream

heavy cream - 2 cups
powdered (confectioners') sugar- 1/3 cup

Whip the cream and sugar in stand mixer with whisk attachment or hand held mixer until nearly stiff.
Add the cream to the top

or add a dollop  to individual servings

Summer and cold soups and desserts are made for each other.  Take some time to make the soup and pie the day ahead and put the meal together with friends pretty quickly.
Thank you Matt for your participation in this private class and for bringing friends to Williams-Sonoma for the "how to"s.  As I said I was channeling Jimmy Buffett who would have loved to have this meal on a summer day and would be a superb chef in preparing it.

Happy Summer Solstice

Monday, June 18, 2018

What goes up must come down! Levi you make me laugh

Levi makes it to the top

 But how does he get down?

and now for a nap

Thursday, June 7, 2018

When life gives you roses------> make rose water!!

Ella  (24 days short of age 15) spent the day with me today.  She came over to pick strawberries and cherries but we stretched it out into much more.  After the cherry picking and eating we decided to make rose water.  The roses in my yard have been in full glory but this incessant 90+ degree weather will make their show a lot shorter.  Well when life gives you lemons you make lemonade but today the garden has given us roses---hundreds of them so Ella and I are making rose water.

Abraham Darby rose
Well we had plenty of roses.  Mine are organically fed and cared for and very fragrant

Rose water is great for your skin.  You can use it for a cleaner, toner or spritzer.  It helps hydrate, it's antibacterial and let's face it    it feels good and smell so divine.  You can also spritz it on your pillow before you go to bed and it may help you sleep better....and again it just smells fabulous!

Here's the recipe:

2 quarts of fresh fragrant rose petals
distilled water.

You'll need a stovetop pan
2 oz atomizer bottles

Start with the roses
My most fragrant are the David Austin roses but if you want some color (and we did) add some red roses.  They won't add to the fragrance but they will to the color.
fresh picked roses
Remove the petals from the stems - wash your hands first
rose petals
Place the petals in a stovetop pan and cover with distilled or spring water- no water with any chemicals like tap water.
Bring the water to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
After simmering 5 minutes turn off the heat and let the "tea" brew.
Now is a good time to do something else while it cools.  Ella and I went out into the scorching heat and planted some flowers in pots.

Strain the tea into a bowl with a spout if you have one:
rose tea

When cool...we placed the above vessel into an ice bath mainly because we wanted a cold spritz
pour the rose water into 2 oz. glass atomizers.
into the glass jar
This batch made about a quart.  This was enough to fill 4 2 oz. atomizers and store the rest in the fridge for refill.
rose water
Ella made the labels and the project was complete.
I have used my rose water last night and again this morning already.  It feels so refreshing and again....smells amazing
I hope you try it.
Bonne Fragrance!

OK Ella did a little cherry tree picking and we did some eating too
I LOVED LOVED spending the day with this magical young lady I get to call my
Thank you for all of your help today!
Ella - cherry picker

and the cherries 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Smell the roses

What about Sunflower?  These new kids are adorable but is Sunny getting her daily back rub and daily treats?  Well I say "Yes"!!!!  But she will stop and smell the roses when she can...hoping to get her head through the fence enough to eat one.....because smelling roses is a good thing but eating them is a delicacy:
smell the roses

Sunflower is not the most charming goat in the barnyard but she shows great tolerance for these new kids (well sometimes) and today she let them jump all over her as part of their fun.  Good girl Sunny
kiddy back ride

Sunday, May 27, 2018

2 weeks old now

These little guys are now two weeks old and bouncing around.  They have made friends with their MaMa CoCo and Sunflower and Maverick and are now taking on the chickens and high places to jump.  Lily has a new home she will go to in 6 weeks and Levi is still looking for one.
They've mastered the basics:

the pink chair

sideways on the food bowl

the obstacle course including MaMa
and of course--sleeping in the food bowl

and a jump from the table

Friday, May 11, 2018

Here they are: My new little family

 These little ones entered our world at 5:30 and 5:35 Thursday evening.  MaMa LuLu (Eloise when she's in trouble but she never is) did an excellent job of getting them here.  Meet Levi and Lily
Hi there!
new little family

MaMa LuLu

 How sweet is this

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sugar snap pea salad with oranges and radishes

sugar snap pea salad with oranges and radishes

Oh this is good:  nice and crunchy, fresh and green with a nice crunch of prochiutto.  I love sugar snap peas and they are one of the first vegetables to plant here in the Spring and one of the great spring vegetables  I watched Valerie Bertinelli make this on her food channel network show last weekend and thought I would try it.  I tweeked the original recipe
The mint and tarragon are essentials to this salad's unique flavor.  Don't forget them.

Here's the recipe:

Sugar snap pea salad with oranges and radishes:

Sugar snap peas - 1 pound
olive oil - 3 TBS
prosciutto - 3 slices or 1 1/2 oz
goat cheese - 1/2 cup
red onion - 1 spring onion or about 2 Tbs of regular red onion
navel oranges - 2 supremed  (peel and pith removed then cut into segments) and 1 for more juice if needed
orange juice, 1/4 cup - use from squeezing extra juice from orange membranes
radishes 6 small, sliced thin.
mint, fresh, 2 Tbs.
tarragon, fresh, 1 Tbs
salt and pepper

The salad dressing is the juice from the orange, olive oil, salt and pepper and the herbs.  


Briefly cook the sugar snap peas in salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  Then strain and place in an ice bath to cool completely.  The peas will be this bright green and a little softer than raw but still crispy. Remove from the ice bath and place them on an absorbent towel to dry.
blanched sugar snap peas
Heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil in a fry pan and add the prosciutto slices.  Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until crispy.

Now for "supreming" an orange:
Cut the top and bottom ends off of the orange.  Then use the knife to remove the side peel leaving no pith.  Cut on either side of each membrane and remove segment.....each segment is called a supreme

navel orange to supreme
Place the orange juice in a large bowl and add the onion slices and orange supremes while you finish the rest of the preparation.  The orange juice will slightly "cook" the onion and take that raw taste out a bit.

supremes and red onion slice in orange juice
Now for the remaining ingredients:

what's left
Add the sugar snap peas, the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil the radishes, prosciutto and the herbs to the bowl and toss. 
Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the goat cheese right before serving.

ready to serve
This salad is fresh and crispy and very satisfying.  I love the goat cheese addition but when I helped myself to a serving the next day the goat cheese and dissolved into the salad and lost its zip.  If you plan on having this for left overs keep the goat cheese and the prosciutto on the side and add before you serve it....even the next day.

Thank you Valerie!
Buon Apetito!