Thursday, January 28, 2010



My girlfriend Cindra and I have been friends forevah.  We met as twenty-somethings in Manhattan where we lived and worked seeking our fame and fortune in show biz.   We've been friends through divorce (mine), relationships, marriages, remarriages (mine), miscarriages, births (her beautiful daughter), deaths and just plain weathering the joys and pitfalls of life.  For years now we've both been in LA (she in Beverly Hills - me in 'the Valley') but no matter how busy we are, we always make time to take each other out for a birthday lunch.  This week it was my birthday lunch to her.

Over the years different restaurants have been favorites but have closed or fallen out of favor.  The one restaurant  that has been a constant is The Ivy.  Yeh, that "Ivy" - the one often mentioned in gossip rags or TMZ... where celebs dine to prove to the world they're still married or not feuding, or to send tongues a-wagging if they're seated w/ a high profile director or a studio mogul or an ex-lover.  The paparazzi go nuts when they're 'tipped' that a celeb whose photo is worth a ton of money will be at the restaurant for lunch or dinner.  Sometimes the sidewalk and curb can be so crowded it's an Indie 500 challenge to maneuver your car to the valet parkers.   And then, of course, it's pricy and I haven't quite found my fame and fortune... yet.  Well, "so what," I say!!!  Sometimes you just need to splurge and the restaurant is just so 'rustic, country French/cottage-y' pretty and the food is good and plentiful, and being there makes a person (well, me at least) just smile.  So there!!!  The 'smiling' reason alone keeps it a favorite.

And it really is pretty (see pix on-line).  The Ivy may well be the only restaurant in Los Angeles surrounded by a white picket fence framing a charming patio filled with fragrant rose bushes, simple white umbrellas, white tableclothed tables and 'bistro'-style chairs with over-stuffed floral throw pillows.  Inside this simple country cottage (and the restaurant really IS a cottage in the middle of one of Beverly Hills 'trendiest' streets) the dining rooms are filled with rustic 'flea market' antiques, lots of real flowers, floral fabrics, vintage pictures & paintings and so many  'shabby chic' touches it makes Rachel Ashwell seem mid-century modern... but we usually eat on the patio unless it's very, very cold (the patio does have heaters) or raining.

The forecast for our lunch date called for rain.  But when we arrived, the weather was just overcast and cool, so we decided to go for it and eat on the patio.  I got the seat by the heater.

The menu is a study of American comfort food w/ a California twist (which often translates to what I call Cal-Mex).  I love the caesar salad, but because it was cool, I wanted a hot lunch.  One of the day's specials was grilled rock shrimp tacos -- sounded good.  Cindra ordered the warm grilled veggie salad w/ chicken (the salad can also be made w/ shrimp or a combination of chicken and shrimp).  The portions are large.  I got two very stuffed tacos, rice and white beans that we could have shared.  And though I thought it was very good,  I couldn't finish it all.  The salad, too, was enough for two people and Cindra gave me a little plate (you think that's maybe why I couldn't finish my own lunch?) and it was delicious.  Another favorite of ours is The Ivy's chicken tostado.  Again, a very generous salad and really tasty.

As we sipped our ritual Bloody Marys (the old-fashioned kind of Bloody Mary, not the restaurant's spicy Cajun version), ate our entrees and caught up on each other's lives, the movies we'd seen, the books we'd read, the weather remained dry.  We pushed our luck and ordered some espresso and tea and continued to just enjoy the afternoon and our conversation.  The drizzle came w/ the check, but I didn't care if I got a little wet, I was going home.  But as Cindra drove away and the valet brought me my car, the heavens opened up.

As they say in show biz...  Timing is everything.

The Ivy
113 N. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Monday, January 25, 2010



Yesterday my friend Michael took me to the latest home party trend.  This was not my mother's era Tupperware party or a Princess china party, but a party where you make a few bucks rather than spend a few bucks.  A party to help get a bit of cash - something we can all use.  A party to sell your old gold and silver - though I don't know if gold or silver ever gets "old."   Now that gold bullion is over a thousand bucks an ounce, I thought - Yay, I'll be rich!  Oops, not quite.  The gold we all have is not gold bullion so the price per ounce (or gram which is how the buyer weighs it) is less and each carat is priced differently... 18K being the highest per gram, down to 10K being the lowest.  No gold plate or gold-filled pieces need apply.  So I went through my jewelry box and found  'old' gold jewelry from another lifetime... even an old circle pin (remember those?) which had been hanging out for decades unworn and unappreciated... so why not sell it? 

Same was true of some of the broken and 'old' sterling jewelry and other pieces (a toothpick holder?!) I had lying around the house getting tarnished.  Though silver is only about $18 an ounce, I loaded up a baggie.  Whatever I could get for it all would be great.

Well, the party was fun, filled w/ refreshments (cheeses, cookies, even sushi) and I made my car payment and then some...

So why am I telling you all this?  Partly because you might get more for your used gold at a gold dealer, but for me, the thought of schlepping around getting prices was a turnoff, and I had a lovely afternoon (the party was at 'tea' time), got a fair price for stuff I never used or wore AND, since I had invited Michael for dinner afterward, we got back to our house just in time to have a delicious simple Sunday salmon supper Richard had made for us while watching the football playoffs.

For appetizers, I had earlier cooked some gourmet sausages and sliced them to easily dip into that Follet walnut Dijon mustard from France that I've written about.  I had also put out some cherry tomatoes to dip into olive hummus.  Simple, inexpensive but 'tasty.'  The table was set w/ basic white dishes,  'fish' flatware w/ celluloid handles, cloth napkins and white candles ready to be lighted.

While we were gone, Richard roasted Brussels sprouts (I love roasted Brussels sprouts) and when we got home he baked salmon filets w/ a mustard sauce on a cedar plank, and made some cous cous...

Again, simple, inexpensive and deliciously 'tasty.'  A simple Sunday salmon supper.


In case you've never cooked on cedar planks before, you can buy them in most super markets - from LA's Ralph's to the more upscale Whole Foods (guess which is cheaper?).  But they are what they say they are... nothing more than small cedar planks, which infuse whatever you're cooking (as well as the kitchen) with a delicious aroma (and taste).

Safety tip:  You MUST soak the cedar plank in water for at least a half an hour to four hours before putting them into the oven (don't want the plank catching fire - that's not the 'smokey' taste anyone should be after).  Every set of planks Richard buys has these instructions, so make sure you follow them.

For last night's dinner, Richard put the salmon filets on the soaked plank and slathered the filets with a honey mustard, ground walnuts and olive oil glaze and cooked the salmon at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. 

But you can bake the salmon plain or get creative and invent your own glaze.

Omega-3 fatty acids never tasted so good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010



Oddly enough, tofu reminded me of kugel, the noodle dish I remember my girlfriend’s mom making for Passover when I was invited to their seder. But tofu really isn’t like kugel (well, maybe a little in texture), it was just what popped into my head when I took my first bite. Not visions of meat or chicken or fish – not even soy. Just kugel. But the tofu dish (named ‘Nonesuch Poele’ by the Galloping Gourmet) that Richard made last night was actually quite good. Nonesuch means "unparalleled" or in a class by itself and poele is a cooking method wherein the dish is cooked in its own juices...

Ten years ago, Richard had the pleasure of working on Graham Kerr’s farewell to television special on the Food Network. Over the years the Galloping Gourmet had slowed down to a trot and became more interested in making delicious, yet healthful, meals and for the show he ‘invented’ the recipe below. When Kerr made it for Richard and the special's executive producer, Richard thought it was delicious and wanted to make it for me. Well, I balked. Tofu?! Really?? Me and tofu?? (That’s a rhetorical question.) But, now that I’m dieting (making me not always the happiest of campers), I relented.

Did I like the dish? Yes. Much to my surprise. Do I like tofu? Yes. Much to my surprise. Would I recommend it? Yes. Much to my surprise. Do I want to have it again? Yes. Much to my surprise.  Am I giving up meat, chicken and fish.  Ha!

(as you will see, this dish can also be made w/ lean meat or poultry)

Copyright 2000, courtesy of Graham Kerr via the Food Network

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: 0
Serves: 2 servings


• 3 teaspoons light olive oil, divided
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 tablespoon finely diced ginger root
• 1 rutabaga, cut in 1-inch dice (1 cup)
• 1 parsnip, cut in 1-inch dice (1/2 cup)
• 2 carrots, cut in 1-inch dice (1 cup)
• 1/2 sweet potato, cut in 1-inch dice (1/2 cup)
• 1 stalk celery, cut in 1-inch dice (1/2 cup)
• 2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
• 8 ounces low fat, extra firm tofu, cut in 1-inch dice (or substitute 8 ounces chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin, ostrich, bison or other lean meat)
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 4-inches long
• 16 snow peas, strings removed
• 8 cherry tomatoes
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 2 tablespoons water
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops
• 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
• Cayenne pepper, to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 10-inch skillet on medium-high. Add the onion and ginger and shallow fry until just browned, about 3 minutes. Toss in the rutabagas, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes and continue cooking 4 more minutes. Stir in the celery, stock, tofu and rosemary. Cover and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

If you are using meat instead of the tofu, shallow fry, on medium-low heat, in a separate pan in the remaining teaspoon of oil until cooked through. It will take about the same amount of time as the vegetables. Add the snow peas and tomatoes to the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the arrowroot slurry and return to the heat to thicken. Serve the vegetables in a mound on 2 heated plates. Lay the cooked meat (if you are using it) on top. Spoon the thickened pan juices over the dish and dust well with the chopped onion tops, Parmesan cheese and cayenne.

Per serving with tofu: 381 calories, 10 gm. fat, 3 gm. saturated fat, 7 percent calories from saturated fat, 57 gm. carbohydrates, 11 gm fiber, 739 mg. sodium Per serving with skinless chicken breast: 483 calories, 13 gm. fat, 3 gm. saturated fat, 6 percent calories from saturated fat, 11 gm fiber, 739 mg. sodium

Friday, January 22, 2010

GREEN SOUP! (no, not pea soup)

Caldo Verde

Yup.  Green soup.  Or if you want to be 'fancy' - Caldo Verde!

For the past week LA has been cold (well, for LA) and wet.  Very wet.  Streets are flooding, mudslides are sliding and the rain keeps coming.  Perfect soup weather.

But we wanted to try something new.  Well, a couple of weeks ago, Richard and I were invited to lunch with good friends who live in Ojai.  Along with crusty bread and a chilled bottle of white wine, they served caldo verde with chicken.  It was delicious. The 'green' is kale.  I had never had kale before and loved it so, when the rains came, Richard decided to make it.  But instead of chicken, he made it with turkey kielbasa which is what the recipe actually calls for.  Well, maybe not 'turkey' kielbasa, but he went w/ the less 'fat' version (I'm dieting)...

So, for the past two nights we've had green soup.  Absolutely delicious.  Pretty healthful.  And way, way cheap for all of us who are on budgets.

Tonite tofu!   Me, who loves meat! I'm not sure about this -- but I'll let you know.


Servings: 6 to 8
Adapted from "The New England Cookbook" by Brooke Dojny (via the L.A. Times)

Caldo Verde is a Portuguese soup.  This is just one of the many different caldo verde recipes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound sausage, preferably Spanish chorizo, linguica or kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (since I'm dieting, Richard
    substituted turnips for the potatoes)
1 pound kale, thick stems removed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2 cups water, more as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Best quality olive oil, for garnish (preferably Spanish)

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot.  Stir in the sausage and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage browns and the onion softens - about 10 minutes

Stir in the broth, potatoes, kale and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes (turnips) are very soft (almost falling apart) and the kale is tender - about 30 minutes.

Use a large fork or whisk to break up some of the potatoes (turnips) against the side of the pot to thicken the soup.  Adjust the liquid as desired, adding more broth or water.  Season to taste w/ the salt and pepper.  Garnish each serving w/ a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Each of the 8 servings:  253 calories; 11 grams protein; 20 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar, 559 mg sodium.

Again - delicious, healthful and CHEAP!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010



One of the joys of my childhood was spending a good portion of every summer in a cottage owned by my Uncle Martin and Aunt Fritzie on a lake in Connecticut. It wasn’t that big a lake as lakes go… about three or four miles long and a mile wide… but for all the memories it gave me, it might as well have been as big as the Atlantic Ocean.

Alexander’s Lake (the “Lake”) was in the small town of Dayville, not far from Thompson, known for its speedway, and my aunt and uncle’s ‘winter’ residence in the larger town of Danielson. Straight up the I-95, almost to the Rhode Island, Massachusetts borders, the area is fairly rural even though it isn’t that far from Providence or Boston. The Lake was my Golden Pond and my aunt and uncle opened their doors and arms to me and my New York/Long Island/Queens friends for as long as I wanted to stay. The cottage was tiny with a living room/kitchen, one bathroom, a bunk room that slept two, a ‘master’ bedroom and a screened in porch overlooking the Lake where most of us kids slept.

The Lake banned motor boats for environmental reasons (even back then), not wanting to have that oil slick so many lakes have developed, so I canoed

(L to R - me & my BFF from Bayside)

 and row boated and sailed in sunfish – sunned

 and swam and piled into a neighbor's pick-up truck with my cousins, neighbor kids, ‘townies,’ and New York friends to go to the Pavillion and roller skate every Saturday night under the glittering balls hanging from the ceiling. We hiked the woods

(well, I'm obviously not hiking - but 'reminiscing' my brief modeling days one Christmas in Connecticut )

 read love comics and played Canasta on the screened in porch and played hide & seek after supper, often getting thrown into the lake with our clothes on by one of the cove’s fathers (the cottage was in a large cove with many other cottages).

But my fondest memories of those summers are of my Aunt Fritzie.

(the two of us over the years - the latter pic taken at her son's wedding)

She was a straight shooter, a good meat and potatoes cook and didn’t suffer fools. My mother was six when their mother died and Fritzie helped raise her, making her not only my mom’s sister, but my mom’s surrogate mom. Aunt Fritzie was also my ‘summer’ mom. A terrific card player, she taught me how to play canasta and bridge, and when I was older and dating boys from “town” she’d flick the porch light on and off if I lingered in their cars too long before coming in after a date. I adored her. My mother adored her. My father adored her. And, my brother adored her.

Did I mention that she and my uncle were Finnish? In fact all my aunts and uncles on both sides were Finnish. Well, Finns aren’t noted for their cuisine. They paid their WWII U.S. war debt, they gave the world Sibelius, Marimekko, Saarinen (father and son) and Nokia – but not a helluva lot of Finnish food unless you count Finn Crisp. And, those foods that I thought were Finnish, turned out to be really Swedish. But there is one Finnish ‘dish’ that I love. Pulla (pronounced Bull-a …Finnish is a very strange language).

Pulla is a marvelous bread. No, it’s a coffee cake! No, it’s a bread! No, it’s a coffee cake! I think, like many things in life, every person has to decide for themselves. For me it’s a coffee cake bread that is the most marvelous when toasted and buttered for breakfast. My grandmother on my father’s side made pulla. AND, my Aunt Fritzie made pulla. And when she’d make it at the Lake, the cottage was filled with the fragrant, distinct and exotic aroma of cardamom.

The years passed and I didn’t spend that much time at the lake after college (a weekend or two every summer). But, eight years after my father died, mom remarried a man in Danielson, so my brother Bob got to spend summers there when he was home from prep school or college. He spent a lot of time at the Lake with Aunt Fritzie where she would teach him how to make pulla.

(Bob resting before he had to put in the dock for the summer)

Bob has carried on the family pulla tradition and every Christmas sends Richard and me at least two loaves. One for our Christmas Eve party (if I don’t hoard it) and one for us. They’re gone in a Finnish flash. Recently I learned that my niece Nha has learned to bake these delicious breads from Bob, and that my god daughter, Monique, Fritz’s granddaughter

(from L to R - Monique, her sister Jen & me before we all grew up)

is also carrying on this Finnish food family tradition. Knowing this makes my heart smile.

I miss you Aunt Fritzie.

Here’s the recipe my brother sent me and his comments.


"This recipe is what my aunt gave me about 30 years ago... It will make about 5 to 6 loaves..."

10-12 cups flour (I usually end up using more)
2 cans evaporated milk –
1 can lukewarm water
3 eggs room temp
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 pound butter
6-10 cardamom pods peeled and crushed (powdered cardamom is OK)


Put sugar, butter, salt into warm milk (don't forget the 1 can water) and melt butter
When milk cools add beaten eggs
Soften yeast in 1/2 cup warm water - stir with spoon
Add cardamom and yeast into milk
Add 4 cups of flour- mix with spoon, keep adding flour 1 cup at at time until it has a dough consistency--then knead but not too much --"my aunt said ‘mix good’...I knead a little more-who knows?"

Cover with a towel and let rise in warm place until double in bulk
Punch down and make braided loaves (you can make muffins, too)
Cover and wait until double in bulk

Brush loaves with glaze after they have risen

Bake loaves for 40-45 minutes in a 325-350 oven
Muffins for 15 minutes

"I have noticed that in my oven with 6 loaves each time is different...I might even change the position of the loaves as my oven heats differently, especially with 6 loaves..."

Glaze Ingredients:
2+ teaspoons butter
3-4 teaspoons sugar
about 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

Cook in a saucepan until a syrup..."I usually use more butter and coffee....last time I added cardamom liqueur."

You can make braided rings, top with almonds and powdered sugar.
You can add raisins to the muffins

"After a day or two, I love to toast a slice until lightly golden and then cover with butter (sweet butter is great) and have a cup of coffee. hmmmm good stuff...."

A special 'note':  Yesterday Aunt Fritzie's granddaughter gave birth to a new great grandson.  Welcome to the world Cash.

Kippis! (Translation: Cheers!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Long before Wall Street forced us to relocate to Penny Lane, Richard and I had been shopping ‘sales,’ (we’re writers – translation: we’re out of work–a lot!!) cutting coupons and frequenting places like Costco or Target for ‘deals’ on food, cleaning products, etc. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t. Well, maybe not the cutting coupon thing which I do obsessively (but only for things I really use) because every coupon is cash to me (double cash if you go to a double coupon market) and I hate to see money thrown into the recycle bin. Hell, I still pick up a penny on the lane if I see one, even if it’s tails up... but I digress… We buy fresh salmon in Costco for ‘pennies,’ cut it up in serving sizes and freeze it. Sadly, we can’t buy produce there since we’re only ‘two’ and most of it would go bad, but the stuff we can buy on the cheap and freeze – In. Our. Cart!!!  Our freezer is packed with healthful, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, beautiful lamb chops, fish, pork chops and steaks that give us many dinners for less than $10.00.

In past blogs I’ve written about the three meals we get from a 4 pound roast chicken. And then there’s my ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ pasta I wrote about that cleans out all the leftovers in our refrigerator – a delicious supper (it’s pasta!!) that’s good for you and cheap, cheap, cheap… Why would anyone rush down the lane to a Burger King when you can eat delicious, healthful, cheap meals at home!

Until recently, however, I never thought of leftovers as “gourmet: But, remember that leg of lamb Richard bought on sale? Well, last night he made Montefin’s leftover, low carb (I’m South Beaching it while doing the Weight Watcher point thing) leg of lamb stew.” Cheap! Healthful! Delicious! But so is my pasta, right? Well, yes. But this stew kicks the leftover thing up a couple of notches to become a real gourmet leftover. I mean really… it has fennel seeds!

(Note: is a website Richard found that features low carb recipes, among other ideas, to help me South Beach it.)\

montefin's Leftover Leg Of Lamb Stew Recipe

Serves 2. (Actually we found there's more than enough for 3 or 4)

• 1 - Leftover Leg Of Lamb with about 2 lbs. of meat left
• 2 large stalks - Celery, cut into 1 1/2" lengths
• 2 - Turnips, peeled and diced the size of Vegas dice
• 1 large - White Onion
• 1 Tsp. - Fennel Seed
• 2 Tsps. - Cumin Seed
• 2 - Bay Leaves
• 2 - Carrots, cut into 1" lengths
• 2 - Green Peppers (Richard’s not crazy about green peppers – so he
•                  used one green and one red bell pepper)
• 10 - Garlic, peeled
• 2 Tbls. - Dried Basil
• 1 Tbls. - Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
• 3 Dashes - McIllhenny's Tabasco® Sauce (Richard chose not to
•              include the Tabasco sauce)
• 1/2 Cup - Sour Cream


Remove the meat from the Leg Of Lamb. Cut the meat into 2 1/2" cubes, cover with clear wrap and refrigerate.

Set the bone in a pot containing 2 quarts of cold water. Add the Celery and Bay Leaves. Cut the top and bottom off the Onion and toss them in too. Put the pot on a low flame and simmer it for 1 hour. Do not cover the pot.

Remove and discard the bone and onion pieces, but leave the celery and bay leaves.

Add the Lamb chunks, the Fennel & Cumin seeds, basil, the Turnips (the ones with the purple tops, not Rutabagas, the yellow ones), Carrots and Garlic cloves. Cut the Onion into eights and add to the pot. Simmer it all on low for 45 minutes.

Add the Green Pepper (and in Richard's case, red bell pepper) andWorcestershire Sauce and cook another 15 minutes.

Just before serving, dip out about 1/4 cup of the pot liquid, stir into the Sour Cream. Serve the stew out onto plates, top with dollops of the sour cream sauce and spritz the sour cream with Tabasco Sauce for color and zing.

Only 12 Carbohydrate grams per serving

Monday, January 11, 2010



My mom was a great family cook. According to Richard, she made the best stuffed pork chops in the world (she did!)… but, the meal I loved the most growing up was Sunday ‘after church dinner’ leg of lamb.

She would rub the roast w/ salt and flour, surround it with peeled Idaho potatoes and white onions and stick it in a very hot oven (450 degrees) for 20 minutes, then turn it down to 350 and roast till done, which for her was well-done – very well done. She usually made gravy, but I preferred the caramelized pan juices on my lamb slices and on my potatoes which were always crunchy on the outside and nice and mushy on the inside. The veggie was usually peas. My mom loved peas w/ lamb. And, of course, mint jelly. “You can’t have lamb w/o mint jelly” was her mantra.

I make leg of lamb the way my mom did… though Richard and I prefer it pink. And that’s what I planned to do when he found a nice size roast on sale (enough for a roast dinner, plus leftovers of lamb stew and lamb hash or whatever else he can come up with – 3 meals at least…hearty and very, very, economical). But, nooooooooooooo. Richard’s still in a ‘Julia frame of mind’ and he found a lamb recipe that he wanted to try.

 He’s never made a leg of lamb before, but who was I to argue if he wanted to cook. Not me! It’s a simple recipe (especially for Julia), but it sounded delicious…

So last night I set the table, lighted the candles, made a fresh lettuce centerpiece (you don’t need to spend money on flowers if there’s produce in the house)… then we dined on Julia’s Gigot a la Moutarde w/ Sauce Speciale a l’Ail pour Gigot. Translation: Leg of lamb coated w/ herbal mustard, and garlic sauce (gravy), and “Richard’s” roasted potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Julia’s leg of lamb w/ sauce wasn’t my mother’s lamb w/ gravy, but it was damn good.

Gigot a la Moutarde
(Herbal Mustard Coating for Roast Lamb)

6-lb leg of lamb (ours was 5 lbs)
½ cup Dijon-type prepared mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove mashed garlic
1 teaspoon ground rosemary or thyme
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
2 Tablespoon olive oil

Blend the mustard, soy sauce, garlic, herbs, and ginger together in a bowl.
Beat in the olive oil by droplets to make a mayonnaise-like cream.

Paint the lamb with the mixture using a rubber spatula or brush... and set it on the rack of the roasting pan. The meat will pick up more flavor if it’s coated several hours before roasting.

Roast in a 350 degree oven, 1 to 1-1/4 hours for medium rare; or 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours for well done. (This really depends on the oven. Richard roasted it for a half-hour longer than recommended and it came out a perfect medium rare). Do not sear first.

Sauce Speciale a l’Ail pour Gigot

(Garlic Sauce for Roast Lamb)

(This sauces used a whole head of garlic which, after two blanchings and a long simmering, becomes tamed and develops a delicious flavor.)

For 1-1/2 to 2 cups of sauce

1 large head of garlic
A saucepan containing 1 quart of cold water

A 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan
3/4 cup milk, more if needed
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon rosemary or thyme
1-1/2 Tablespoons raw white rice (we didn’t have any so Richard used brown rice)
1 cup brown lamb stock, beef stock, or canned beef bouillon
A sieve, a bowl, and a wooden spoon, or a blender
Salt & pepper

A hot gravy boat

Separate the garlic cloves. Bring them to the boil in the sauce pan and boil 30 seconds. Drain and peel. Set again in cold water, bring to the boil, and drain.

In the saucepan bring the milk, salt, herbs, and rice to a simmer. Add the garlic, and simmer very slowly for 45 minutes, putting in more milk by spoonfuls if the rice is in danger of scorching.

Note: this sauce takes 45 minutes – something Richard forgot and started it late. Thankfully, the lamb needed to stay in the oven a bit longer, so both were done at the same time.

Pour in the stock or bouillon and simmer 1 minute. Then force through a sieve, or puree in the blender.

Correct seasoning. If done before the lamb, set aside and reheat when needed. Then pour into a hot gravy boat.


PS  - Later this week, leftover lamb stew.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

TOAST - An "Ode"

TOAST - An "Ode"

You know those times when you want or crave something you can't or shouldn't have?  Well, for me - today - it's toast.  Yup, toast!

Now, normally I can take or leave toast.  I like a slice now and then.  And I do like Thomas' Original English Muffins with butter or a real bagel (not a supermarket bagel) w/ cream cheese and nova - perhaps a few capers and a slice of tomato...  But regular toast.  Nah, not so much.

Well, today I WANT toast.  Why?  Because I can't have it.  No one's going to shoot me if I do, but if I'm going to achieve my 'goal' - it's no toast for me.  At least not for two weeks.

Again, why?  I'm in the first minute and a half of the first two weeks of South Beach.  Not the town in Florida, but the diet.

But why am I craving toast and not a potato or rice or pasta or a chip?  Because Richard made toast this morning and the aroma followed me all the way into my office (which really isn't far since my office is right off the kitchen) and visions of his wheat toast with melted butter flooded my mind, followed with visions of Jewish rye toast smothered in butter and sour dough toast smothered in butter and mult-grain toast smothered with butter and even wonderful Wonder Bread white toast smothered with butter... Oh, my... 

Apparently I'm not good with denial.  And I really can't blame Richard. Although next time he does it, he's toast!

Monday, January 4, 2010



(an appreciation)

I like nature (though I’m not all that crazy about ‘wild’ life). I love hiking in the woods, walking on a sandy beach, swimming in the ocean… just smelling the fresh air. Flowers are nice in the ground or a meadow or a pot, but what I really like are trees even if I can probably name only about four different species. Memories of my father raking the leaves from the big oak tree in our yard then diving into the piles… the smells, the touch, the colors… will always be with me. Hiking the Appalachian Trail (not the “Appalachian Trail” in Argentina) during the foliage season is an all time ‘high.’ Well, as long as I don’t have to sleep under the stars on the hard ground or even in a tent when the day is done (did I mention, I really don’t like ‘wild’ life). But the tree I love the most is our yearly Christmas tree, not sitting proudly in a forest, reaching for the sky, but sitting proudly in our house, nestled in our tree stand reaching for our ceiling.

I’m also a city girl who loves walking in Manhattan amidst the beautiful man made caverns and canyons. The sight every year of the tall Christmas tree perched in the middle of Rockefeller Center always takes my breath away (well, that and the cold, wintry, New York air)… the perfect marriage of (wo)man and nature.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a tall Christmas tree. As tall as the ceiling in my house or apartment allowed. The aroma the tree brings to our home is so clean and fresh and no matter how the tree is shaped, there’s always a perfect angle. I also love the tree’s jewelry. The lights, the ornaments… it’s one of the reasons I love the circus – but that’s another blog. But it’s not just the trees “glitterati” I love, it’s the memory that each ornament holds. I still have the angel my grandparents gave me when I was four…

 faded, fragile ornaments from my father’s youth...

 a Santa my parents gave me when I was five or six...

the first ornaments I bought when I lived on my own…

there are hearts, wreaths, elephants and Pierre Deux ornaments my mother gave Richard and me every year we’ve been together till that last Christmas she spent with us...

 ornaments from TV shows and plays Richard wrote...

(even one from the White House Blue Room, a "Christmas in the White House" special)...

 ornaments I gave Richard as stocking stuffers...

 a cloth ‘fan’ and a cloth ‘bell’ my mother made out of fabric from one of my grandmother’s fancy “dress-up” blouses...

 baubles from friends...

 angels made by my godchild and her sister, a little cross needle-pointed by a young relative...

a card mom sent us years ago…

even an ornament I painted for us (as I did for friends) the year money was an ‘object’…

So as much as I love my noble noble for being beautiful on its own (and am sad when we ‘undress’ her every New Year’s day and send her back to the earth), I also love it because it tells the story of my life as well as any photo album. Christmas trees are memory trees. What was, what is and what can be. It’s love, loss, hope and faith. You can’t get a more perfect marriage of  (wo)man and nature than that.