Can you imagine a cold and drizzly winter night; and all you can think about is getting home, putting on something comfortable and getting cozy on the couch. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had something hot to eat to warm you?
You know, the answer is soup! Soup is so easy to make and one of the easier is onion. Why is it so easy? Because with this recipe it is made in a crock pot. The hardest part is peeling the skin off the onions before slicing them. Topped with a hearty slice of bread and Gruyere cheese, you’re all set. Pour yourself a glass of white wine and the woes of the day are a thing of the past.
The holidays are here and you are itching to entertain friends and family; but, you are not in the mood for a big party or one that lasts for hours. Consider a simple, but short cocktail and hors d’oeuvres gathering for an hour or two. Everyone is busy with multiple parties, so begin the party at six and end it at eight. Your guests still have their evening open.
The following are some interesting suggestions for what to serve? Start with a smoked salmon pizza. Try this different and delicious alternative when serving smoked salmon. Add deviled eggs to the table, a vegetable crudites and dip, a Mediterranean Cheese Tort, and Marinated Shrimp. For cocktails always have a good Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio on hand. For those looking for something a wee bit stronger , it is always smart to stock the ingredients for a Sweet Old Fashion or my favorite drink, the Sazarac. Remember presentation and eye appeal is very important!
I love smoked salmon and sometimes I just lay it on a tray with rye slices, creme fraiche, diced onions, capers, and egg whites and crumbled yokes. But other times I like to make a salmon pizza which is different, tasty and appealing in presentation.
I created the following recipe with ingredients that work well together; and the best part of the creation is the presentation. The tort is a savory cheese cake with multiple layers: including sun-dried tomatoes; roasted red peppers; walnut basil pesto and Kalamata olives. The addition of creamy goat cheese pulls it all together. When served with crackers or corn chips, it is a perfect appetizer when having guests.
Note: I keep sun-dried tomatoes on hand. I keep them in a jar covered in olive oil with fresh garlic cloves. I use them all the time in salads and pastas.
It was our third cruise on the Caribbean Princess before I discovered the Chef’s Table. We had been on many cruises, tried all the specialty restaurants, but were now only discovering the Chef’s table. So, on the first day of the cruise, I called the front desk, asked a few questions and signed up to participate. I think the word foodie is way overused, but let’s face it, that is what I am.
After a wonderful day sightseeing and sunning in Aruba, we returned to the ship to dress for our dinner. We met up with four other couples who turned out to be delightful dinner companions. We were introduced to the very personable and entertaining Executive Chef Thomas M. Ulrich. He ushered us through the ships galley to experience how he directs two hundred and fifty plus people to prepare and present food twenty- four hours a day for thousands of passengers. We realized immediately, it was quite a feat!
It was time to begin our meal and we were all anticipating the experience. As we were led to a cozy corner of the kitchen, an aperitif and amuse bouche were waiting. The aperitif on this occasion was champagne, which was of course delicious; and the amuse bouche, four bite size hors d’oeuvres, was beautifully displayed. Amuse bouche is a French term used to describe small bits of food served before the meal. Both the aperitif and the amuse bouche are to stimulate the palate while representing what to expect from our upcoming meal. I personally would call both, happy food! And happy we all were as we savored a Blini pancake topped with Smoked Salmon and Caviar, an Ahi Tuna Tartare with avocado, soy and ginger, a Gruyere Tartlet and a Blue Crab Margarita with avocado and mango…..and the champagne was flowing!
A grand meal should entice all the senses and we were not disappointed as we approach our table in a main dining room. The table is laden with flowers from end to end and our glasses are filled with an excellent Sauvignon Blanc. The starter was a porcini and morel Mushroom Risotto. Risotto is an Italian cooking technique that involves stirring hot liquid little by little into Arborio rice to create a creamy consistency. With the addition of the mushrooms, this dish was outstanding and a favorite of many at the table.
The Intermezzo was next, a course to cleanse the palate for the entrée to follow. It was a Citrus Sorbet laced with frozen vodka and its taste and presentation had a wow factor!
Our entrée was billed as the “ultimate surf and turf.” Slices of Bourbon marinated beef tenderloin shared the plate with a broiled lobster tail and veal tenderloin medallions. A béarnaise sauce, a chili sambal and drawn butter accompanied the plate. Root vegetables and mousseline potato compliment the meat and seafood and a Chianti red was served with this course.
We were all sated; but we know there was more deliciousness to come. The order of the meal is following the French tradition and a tasty cheese course is placed before us. A wedge of creamy Camembert with pine nuts sits atop a crisp walnut biscotti. The dish was drizzled with a port wine reduction.
Before we can dab our lips with our napkin, the Chief Pastry Chef Beniamino Collemi set before us a bittersweet chocolate mousse with a center of caramel cream and a milk chocolate
crunch. The artistry of this creation was as special as its taste. A dessert wine was poured.
Our tummy’s were about to scream “uncle” when Chef Collemi returned. Just as we began our meal with the amuse bouche we were going to end our meal with mignardise. Mignardise refers to an assortment of small desserts typically served with coffee at the end of a meal. Chef is holding a carousel made of chocolate. I thought this is over the top! It contains one more glorious opportunity for us to savor an amazing assortment of handmade macaroons, candies and chocolate.
We left the table having met new friends with common interest, hoping we would meet again. Thank you to the Chefs who prepared our meal and the experienced and attentive servers. Thank you Princess for offering the Chef’s Table. It will be a while before we forget the delicious memories we are taking home.
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I love butter cream icing; but when my son Benjamin requests coconut cake for his birthday, it’s not butter cream that I use. Many years ago I originally saw the recipe for boiled white icing in an old edition of the Settlement Cookbook . It looked rather complicated; but one day I experimented and found that it makes mounds of a creamy and delicious white icing. Over the years this icing has become the topping for not only my coconut cakes, but numerous […]
Today can only be described as beautiful. The house was filled with family celebrating the baby naming of our fifth granddaughter. As with most joyous occasions, food is usually a focal point; and today was no exception. After gathering in the family room and participating in a short naming ceremony everyone was hungry and ready to eat.
One of my favorite activities is planning a menu when I entertain. For this occasion I thought about who was coming and what were their favorite foods. My youngest daughter and the mother of the granddaughter we honored requested a french toast souffle. So the menu now had its first dish.
The family arrived at noon so the menu included lunch slash brunch items. The following is what we enjoyed today.
French Toast Souffle recipe
My daughter’s mother-in-law made these fabulous dipped pretzel sticks as well as an array of pick up goodies that included dark and blonde brownies, Jewish biscotti, better known as mandel bread and some delicious raspberry squares. I made a slew of chocolate meringues for a gluten free choice as well as a mini dessert with yellow cake topped with strawberries topped with whipped cream.
Yes the day was wonderful, filled with good food and a very beautiful family!
As a child I hated Brussels sprouts. They looked just like cabbage and whenever my mother cooked cabbage, the house smelled awful. Consequently, in my mind, if smells bad…it tastes bad.
In the last few years I have discovered two recipes that take my thoughts on this vegetable to the delicious level. In fact, until my husband said, enough with the Brussels sprouts, I served them frequently. I now even make them for special occasions.
Cut the tough ends off the sprouts and cut them in half. Pour oil and wine in a glass baking dish and place halved sprouts cut side up into dish.Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper over all. Cover with plastic wrap leaving an opening on one quarter of the dish and place in microwave on high for 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness. Absolutely delicious!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and place on baking sheet. Mix together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture over Brussels sprouts and mix around mix well to ensure Brussels sprouts are coated evenly. Place lemon halves on baking sheet as well. Roast Brussels sprouts for 35-45 minutes until desired crispiness.
Most cooks use a ton of garlic in their cooking; and if they don’t shame, shame shame! Garlic is good for the body and it makes so many foods taste better. A good cook always has fresh garlic on hand.
Here is the easiest way I have found to peel it and always have a fresh amount of it in the fridge.
My husband first told my about this method and have used it ever since. There is no muss, no fuss… and no smelly garlic hands afterward!
Find two empty leftover jars. In the first put in a whole bulb of garlic. Secure the lid on the jar tight and shake, shake, shake. Seriously, pretend you are dancing to music and walk around shaking this jar as fast and as hard as you can.
After a few minutes you will find that the bulb is now a mass of cloves and the paper has come off the cloves.
One more step and you’re finished. Empty that jar onto a clean counter and separate the cloves from the paper. Transfer your peeled garlic to the second jar; secure the lid tightly and refrigerate.
The end result is fresh garlic for a month. Now, how long did that take?
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the devastating storm known as Katrina. Through a great deal of help from outsiders and inhabitants alike, the city of New Orleans is once again a thriving community. In fact it is now a better place to live, because of an unexpected horrific tragedy that gave a city the opportunity to rebuild and remake itself.
Being raised in New Orleans and personally touched by the storm I consequently wrote my Mother’s story about her days before and after the storm. Her story has a happy ending, unlike that of so many others. It is important that we be reminded that tragedy can befall a city and its inhabitants so unexpectedly; and how we should never take anything for granted.
My Mother’s story is archived in the Jewish Women’s Archives, Katina’s Jewish Voices oral history collection. It is a story of her inner will and strength and an interesting read.
My Mother’s Story
It was the Wednesday after Katrina hit and the levees had destroyed the city. The TV had shown pictures of Memorial Hospital. The commentator had said that the hospital had been evacuated and that the hospital was empty. My mother had needed a procedure done and she had been admitted to the hospital on the preceding Saturday. When the word came on Sunday that the city must evacuate, my mothers’ doctor, had told the family she would be more comfortable and safer at the hospital versus taking a long road trip.
Our family had dispersed all over the south and after the storm the children of, Margaret Buring were calling each other frantically asking, “Have you heard from her?” The four of us waited and waited; but, by Wednesday afternoon, we started to really worry. Where was our Mother? Surely if the hospital had been evacuated, she would have reached at least one of us.
We called every hospital we could find from Texas to Florida and heard the same refrain, “we are supposed to get evacuees, but so far none have come in!” My brother-in-law even got Michael Brown (the head of Fema) on the phone and he couldn’t help. Panic started to set in.
All day Thursday we heard nothing… and then, at six that evening, the phone rang. I ranto get it and the gentleman at the other end said “This is Delta airlines calling. I said, Yes sir, what can I do for you?” After what seemed like the longest pause and in a voice that was filled with pride, he says, “We Have Your Mother!” I screamed, rushed to the car and called my siblings.
I spied her sitting on a bench. My first thought was that she looked like a Holocaust survivor. My mother was a woman who prided herself on always looking immaculate and here sat our Mother with disheveled hair wearing nothing but shorty pajamas, socks that Delta Airlines had given her and the look of an eighty plus year old woman that said “I am a survivor! I jumped out of the car to hug her and she whispered in my ear, “you have a very smart mother!’
And smart she was as she told us the grueling story of her survival. She had been in the hospital for five days with temperatures reaching 106 degrees and no food, other then water. How all the patients had been moved to higher floors using the stairwell to avoid rising waters. She said that she slept in the hallways with people screaming all around her. She spoke of the amazing doctors and nurses and volunteers who had stayed behind to take care of the infirmed.
Finally on Thursday morning she was told that boats had finally come to the hospital to evacuate the patients. She gathered the only belongings she could carry and put them in a small plastic bag. They consisted of her wallet, her eyeglasses and her medicine. She had on shorty pajamas, a matching robe and a pair of slippers. Besides her plastic bag she had her walker. As the line moved forward to get on the boat, the security guard told the patients, “You are not allowed to take anything on the boat except yourselves. Every person dropped their little plastic bags. Now she had nothing, but herself and her wits.
She did keep her walker. The doors opened and she stepped into the dirty water almost to her waist. She was lifted on to the boat. As it moved down what used to be a double lane street with a pretty median with trees and flowers , she thought now I am safe. No sooner had this thought crossed her mind, when the person driving the boat said that she would have to get off. The water at that point was not high enough to sustain the weight of the boat and its passengers. She walked to higher ground though the murky waters for three long blocks. She thought to herself, I am not going to die here. I want to see my children again. She lost her house shoes and discarded her robe as it was sopping wet and grimy.
She found an ambulance and was driven to the airport. She was told that the Air Force was sending planes for all evacuees. A lady lent her some coins to use the phone to call us, but nothing worked. She walked over to the information desk and asked when would the planes be coming? The woman had no idea, but told her that the president of Delta Airlines had flown in a group of Delta employee volunteers from Atlanta that day. His plane was leaving in ten minutes and taking back evacuees.
My Mother walked as quickly as she could to the gate and saw that the line to get on the plane was far out the door. She spied a man in a wheelchair at the back of the line and approached him. “Sir, I know you want to get on this plane, she said, “Stick with me!” She escorted him to the front of the line and entered the area for handicapped patients. Needless to say, our mother got on that plane!
I was fortunate enough to spend the last year of my Mothers life together with her in Atlanta. Last weekend my family was here to celebrate the marriage of my oldest son. It was also the anniversary of the date my Mother passed away one year ago. To honor her we all went to services on Saturday morning. As I waited at the synagogue for the services to begin I was telling a total stranger about my mothers Katrina story and he summed it up beautifully.: ‘no matter what trials G-d puts before us the human spirit will prevail’.
G-d rests her soul. We miss her terribly…..
A number of women’s organizations are commemorating the tenth anniversary of Katrina in New Orleans on June 16th.. Participating in the event is the New Orleans section, National Council of Jewish Women and the New Orleans chapter of Hadassah. Joining these two is the Jewish Women’s Archive. This organization chronicles and transmits the rich legacy of Jewish women and their contributions to our world.
The seminar will explore the impact of women’s leadership during the hurricane and beyond, and assess the state of Jewish women’s leadership in New Orleans today. There will be a screening of excerpts from the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Katrina’s Jewish Voices oral history collection.