Wednesday, December 29, 2010




Last year for our Christmas Eve party feast, Richard made a Julia Child inspired French ‘peasant’ cassoulet. Keeping that ‘peasant’ theme – this year he made Deer Valley “Tex-Mex” chili and Mexican cheese cornbread.  Julia would have loved it.

Throngs of guest (well, 30+ in our house feels like throngs) munched on appetizers of pates, tapenades, spreads and dips of all kinds brought by friends, as they sipped Cosmopolitans, appropriately red for the occasion.  As the Cosmos turned into wine, the appetizers turned into chili, cornbread and salads.  This year Richard made a red cabbage salad w/ dried apricots, prunes, walnuts, chopped apples & pears and pomegranate seeds w/ a red wine vinaigrette…

and a green salad w/ pears, sliced almonds and blue cheese in a balsamic vinegar dressing.

Oh, did I forget to mention the trout?  For those who were meat and poultry challenged (or just love fish) – Richard poached pink steelhead trout and served it on a platter garnished w/ dill w/ a ‘side’ of dill-mustard sauce.

And, of course, there was Finnish pulla bread (pronounced bulla for you newer readers) made by my brother and sent from Sacramento…

We had cakes 

and tortes

and cookies and crème brulees

also brought by friends… and there might have been some sugar plums dancing around (or maybe that was just in my head) … and when we were finished, we were as stuffed as a Christmas goose.

But even after all that eating by the ‘throngs’, we had some leftovers… so last night we hosted a chili/cornbread leftover dinner party.  And, as delicious as the chili was Christmas Eve, it really does get better aged a few days in the refrigerator.

(South Western Tex-Mex Chili)


2 cups dried black beans, rinsed
10 cups water
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium Anaheim chilies, seeded & chopped *
2/3 cup chopped red onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 large leek (white part only), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled
¼ cup all purpose flour
2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
4-1/2 cups chicken stock or canned broth
2-1/4 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken – it’s this diced turkey or chicken that makes it different from traditional turkey chili recipes which use ground turkey…
(Richard roasted a turkey for the occasion)


Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped red onion
Sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro


Place black beans in large pot w/ enough cold water to cover by 3 inches and let soak overnight.

Drain beans.  Return beans to pot.  Add 10 cups water and pepper and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours.  Drain beans.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat.  Add Anaheim chilies, 2/3 cup chopped onion, celery, bell peppers, leeks, garlic and oregano.  Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Add flour, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 4 cups stock and bring to simmer, stirring frequently.  Puree 1-1/4 cups corn w/ remaining ½ cup stock in food processor.  Add puree to chili.  Mix in black beans, turkey and remaining 1 cup corn.  Simmer chili 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

(Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Rewarm before serving.)

Place toppings in individual bowls on the table for everyone to pick and choose.

Makes 6 servings.  Obviously, Richard more than tripled the recipe to make enough to feed the ‘throngs’

*Also known as California chilies.  Available at Latin American markets and specialty food stores if your super market doesn’t have them.

From Allrecipes, Submitted by Judy Spence


1 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can cream-style corn
½ (4 ounce) can chopped green chili peppers, drained
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Blend in cream corn, chilies, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese

In separate bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to corn mixture; stir until smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.

Makes 6 servings.  Again, obviously, Richard made more than one batch for our party.

Bon appetit!  Oops, sorry – that was last year.

Bueno appetit!

And a Happy New Year!


Monday, December 20, 2010


A Christmas Tale

When Vi (“Mom” to me – “Auntie Vi” to almost everyone else) left her cozy home in the Connecticut “boonies” to move to California and closer to her kids (Bob, me and our spouses), she had two choices:  Los Angeles or Sacramento.  She liked LA (somewhat), but palm trees just weren’t her ‘thing.’  Sacramento was more of a fit – more “east coast.”  She loved the Capitol building and the parks w/ more variety of trees than any other city except Paris.  She loved that the city had a ‘winter’ (sort of) and that the leaves turned beautiful colors. And she loved the fact that she could live nicely there on her fixed income. So she left her beloved New England where she grew up and where she had moved back to after years in New York City.  She left the boutiques she ran and the friends she had made, packed up her belongings and headed west.

And though she was hours away from me, she’d come down to LA for two extended visits – summer and winter… Her winter pilgrimage included the Christmas holiday and being a part of our annual Christmas Eve party.

During her first Christmas here, a tradition was started.  She loved to cook, so she became Richard’s sous chef as he prepared the dishes for the party… but she alone made the glazed lemon tea breads we’d give out as ‘favors’ to our guests.

T’was one night before Christmas Eve and all through the kitchen Richard and Vi were stirring… and chopping, dicing, mixing and blending and Vi was preparing to make her batch of little lemon breads, when Richard chopped and diced his ‘baby’ finger.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Never one to overreact, Vi calmly grabbed a clean dish towel and applied it and pressure to Richard’s finger as she and I ‘discussed’ whether I should drive Richard to the ER.  I was for it.  She didn’t think it was necessary.  Richard didn’t know what to do as we had usurped the conversation.  He may have had an opinion as his finger bled and throbbed, but he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.   As the towel became more colorfully red, I made the decision to ER it.  Richard was relieved.  As we were leaving, Vi reassured him that she’d seen worse over her many years and that he wouldn’t bleed to death… that he’d be fine and that she’d continue the last minute cooking tasks while he was gone.  The party must go on.

By the time we reached the ER, the bleeding had stopped – but to be on the safe side, the doc gave him three stitches so it wouldn’t start again.  Richard had a new Christmas memory and a red badge of cooking courage… not to mention, he got to keep the tip of his baby finger.

By the time we arrived back home a couple of hours later, Vi had finished the chopping and dicing and had made three batches (9 little loaves) of her lemon breads.  To paraphrase Papa Hemingway: "glaze under pressure."  That’s my Mom.

It’s been a few Christmases w/o Vi, but Richard continues the lemon bread tradition.  Join us in that tradition.



1/3 cup melted butter
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon granted lemon rind (peel)
½ cup chopped nuts (Vi used walnuts)
3 tablespoon lemon juice


Blend well the butter and 1 cup sugar;  beat in eggs one at a time.  Add almond extract.

Sift together dry ingredients;

add to the egg mixture alternately w/ milk. 

Blend just to mix.  Fold in peel and nuts.

Turn into greased, oven-proof glass loaf baking dish (8-1/2” x 4-1/2” x 2-3/4” pan).  Bake in slow oven (325 degrees) about 55-65 minutes (depending on your oven) or until testing the center w/ a toothpick comes out clean.  If you bake bread in a metal loaf pan, use a moderate oven (350 degrees) - 40-50 minutes or until the toothpick test is clean.

Mix lemon juice and ¼ cup sugar;  immediately spoon the loaf when you take it out of the oven.

Cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on a rack.  Do NOT cut for 24 hours so that it slices easily.  However, Vi used to slice hers as soon as the loaf cooled and it sliced ‘just fine.’

Makes 1 loaf.

If using those cute little loaf pans, these ingredients will make three little loaves and should bake about 40-50 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test.

 All that's left is the clean-up...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

OH, CHRISTMAS TREE - OH, CHRISTMAS TREE... and a "Heloise" Hint....

and a "Heloise" Hint

In some great old Christmas family fables:  mom, dad and the kids bought or chopped down their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve....  or some poor, downtrodden family w/ one warm coat among them would come home from doing good works on Christmas Eve to find that Santa had left them a beautifully lit, decorated tree (and warm coats for everyone) and they hadn't even left him a cookie!

But in real life most people buy their trees long before Christmas - and, if you're like me and are not fans of dry Christmas trees w/ turning brown needles on Christmas's a "Heloise" hint on how to prolong the life of your tree so it will still be fragrant, fresh and green on Christmas day...  

We've been doing this for more than 15 years. 

As soon as you've put the tree in its stand, fill the stand w/ a mixture of 2 teaspoons of Clorox Bleach in a 1/2 gallon of hot water and pour.  Be sure to refill the stand as often as the mixture is guzzled by your tree... And, of course, avoid spilling which may discolor your floor or carpeting.  It is bleach, after all... and, no, I don't own stock in Clorox. ;o)

Friday, December 17, 2010



Yes -  tis the season...  The season of joy, family, mangers, noble fir trees, santas, plum pudding and stress.  

If you're like me - you're having a zillion people over at some point during the Christmas holiday.  For us, it's Christmas Eve.  Our house is 'deck the halls w/ bows of holly' w/ decorated trees in every room and friends coming from far and wide (well, coming over the hill from LA to the San Fernando Valley is a schlep!) to toast the season... and eat.  In past years Richard has made turkeys, hams, French cassoulets, Deer Valley Chili, poached salmons -- salads and pastas and Christmas cakes and cookies.  It's a week long cooking marathon... hence the stress.

And then there's a 'find' that lessens the burden, like Pate Therese I blogged about last year.  Something to make that's delicious, yet doesn't take the whole day to cut, chop, measure and mix.  Our find this year... eggnog cake!  I love eggnog, but never serve it (tho I have the most beautiful antique milk glass punch bowl), so the thought of an eggnog cake tickles my childhood taste memories of nutmeg and Christmas spices. Thanks to my friend, "Diz" (her email address nickname) a/k/a Phyllis, we now have the recipe to this holiday find.  And, thanks to Diz, again, I also have a picture of the finished product to show y'all.  I think this is going to be a keeper.

Eggnog Cake

one yellow cake mix
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (use fresh grated, it DOES make a difference)
2 extra large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups eggnog
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if using a dark pan). Grease and flour a standard bundt pan. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 4 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Friday, December 10, 2010


an appreciation

Elaine Kaufman, one of the great New York saloon keepers, died last week.  No one, IMO, except Vincent Sardi and Toots Shor (whom I’ve blogged about before) could match her presence as she presided over her establishment appropriately named Elaine's.

Standing at the end of the long mahogany bar tallying up patrons’ bills w/o an adding machine which often did not resemble the prices of anything consumed by the diners, or table-hopping to chat w/ favored diners, she was a force.  

I started going to Elaine’s when I was married to my first husband (hereinafter referred to as “the ex”)…  He was a slick, Nicky Arnstein-type, rock/nightclub agent who loved to gamble and fly down to the Caribbean or Miami to work on his tan (tho he looked more like Omar Sharif, than Arnstein, thank god).  He was a Bronx boy who grew up playing schoolyard basketball and dreaming of the high life in Manhattan.  Elaine was a Bronx girl w/ a little Queens thrown in w/ her own dreams of life in Manhattan and, though her first loves were writers and journalists, she adored ‘the ex.’  In fact, she loved most men.  Women?  Not so much.  But she liked me well enough, even though she never bothered to learn my name, because I came w/ ‘the ex.’

When ‘the ex’ officially became ‘the ex’ dinners at Elaine’s seemed to be over for me… I was a fledgling writer making ends meet working at ICM as an ‘agent-in-training’ - no Dorothy Parker by any means, though Elaine’s was my era’s Algonquin Round Table.  But during my short marriage, I had made friends w/ a few ‘favored’ by Elaine so I got to go now and again… each time Elaine quietly tolerating me because of the guy I was with.  I didn’t care.  I was ‘famous adjacent’ sitting at a table near Woody & Mia or the always elegant George Plimpton or Jules Feiffer or Gay Talese or near the wall phone where I would overhear one of her ‘guys’ call his bookie to bet on the Knicks (pre-cell phones)… or see who would come out of the bathrooms next w/ white powder on their noses.

But it wasn’t until I became a BFF of Erica - another junior ICM agent who also was a ‘regular’ at Elaine’s because of her husband – that I became a ‘regular’ again (sort of).  When Erica joined me in ‘singlehood’ – Elaine took her under her wing and she became the first female I ever saw Elaine dote on, always giving Erica one of the ‘good’ tables along the right hand wall as you entered the restaurant.

We were barely out of our teens and unaccomplished at the time, but that didn’t seem to matter to Elaine (at least as far as Erica was concerned).

So there I was, once again, eating at Elaine’s a couple of nights a week at Erica’s table (or w/ one of Elaine’s other ‘favored’ friends).   Sometimes it was just the two of us – other times we had dates or she would entertain a few writer clients (she’d finally been promoted to full literary agent after getting Robin Cook his first book deal).  Often we stayed long after closing, playing backgammon and lighting up the cookie wrappers from macaroons (I think they were macaroons) then watching them shoot up in the air and burn out.  I never knew when these cookies arrived at our table – but they were always there at the end of the meal.

One night I spotted Norman Mailer w/ a couple of  people at a table along that right hand wall just before the doorway into the “Siberia” room (reserved for those in disfavor or people Elaine didn’t know or want to know).  On the wall above Mailer was a lighted sconce which, for some reason, bothered Norman to no end.  He stood up and turned it off.  Within a nano second, Elaine materialized at his table and turned the sconce back on.  After a few friendly words Elaine returned to her post at the end of the bar and Norman again turned off the sconce.  Elaine scurried back and turned it on – Norman turned it off – Elaine turned it on… It was her restaurant, after all.  Friendly words turned to angry words, angry words turned to yelling and the yelling turned to fisticuffs (well, a little skirmish anyway) – the clash of the titans!  I was transfixed.  The next thing I knew, Elaine was shoving Mailer out of the restaurant.  And this was a guy who once took up boxing.

I miss those days in New York – the energy, the political discussions, the celebrations when a writer had a book published or a play opening or a breaking story… but what I miss most were her fantastic stuffed mushrooms overflowing w/ so much melted cheese you could hardly find the mushroom.

Many obituaries have told stories about Elaine often feeding ‘her’ writers who were down on their luck – even running a tab for them for years – at the same time dismissing her food.   I had to laugh at the remarks I recently read online that bitched about this entrée or that appetizer - wanting to know why Elaine’s was so feted when the food was so bad.   Frankly, they just don’t get it… Elaine’s was never about the food.  It was a sense of place!  A clubhouse!  Sardi’s was never about the food, either.  Neither was the Algonquin or Toots Shor’s… they were watering holes for friends, not a place for foodies.  But, like Toots and Sardi’s, Elaine’s best entrees were simple steaks and chops --‘saloon’ food -- and not the Italian food featured on the menu.  So being a meat eater, that was fine dining for me… and, IMO, she had the best veal chop in town.  But nothing  back in the day could top her stuffed mushrooms. 

I was addicted to them.  Another ‘favored’ friend of Elaine’s was fashion photographer turned film director, Jerry Schatzberg.  We, too, were friends (though I did have a mad crush on him) and we often dined at Elaine’s.  One night at dinner, I astounded him when I ordered those “dripping w/ melted gruyere mushrooms” for an appetizer, a main course and, again for dessert.  What can I say, I love cheese that bubbles and stretches like a rubber band when you fork it into your mouth. 

To abate this yearning during the many years we’ve lived in LA, Richard found a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that almost takes the place of the ones I still dream about from Elaine’s.  In her memory he made them the other night as an appetizer for a small dinner party we hosted.

So, if you’re into mushrooms and melted cheese and aren’t able to go to Elaine’s – bite into these.

Mushrooms Stuffed w/
Walnuts & Cheese
(from the Silver Palate cookbook)

12 medium-size mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thoroughly defrosted & squeezed dry
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
1 ounce Gruyere cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Remove stems from mushrooms and save for another use.  Wipe the mushroom caps w/ a damp cloth or paper towel and set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter together in a small skillet.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat, covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add walnuts and garlic to onion and cook for another minute.   

Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.   

Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Stir in cheeses, dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the mushrooms, cavity side up, in a baking dish. 

 Divide the spinach and walnut mixture evenly among the mushroom caps.

Set baking dish in the upper third of the oven.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until filling is browned and the mushrooms are thoroughly heated through.  Serve immediately.

12 mushrooms, 3 or 4 portions

Tuesday, December 7, 2010



I’ve never liked gravy.  I mean really, why ruin a perfectly delicious piece of poultry or meat or ruin scrumptious, smooth, creamy mashed potatoes w/ something that buries these amazing flavors and tastes?  And don’t get me started on the idea of smothering chestnut stuffing w/ brown liquid.

Well, I get it now.  I’m on the gravy train.  Why?  Because Richard made the most wonderful balsamic gravy for Thanksgiving… a gravy that brought out the flavors of the turkey and its stuffing, not to mention the mashed potatoes w/o overpowering the tastes I love so much…

Then two nights later, he kept me on the train w/ yet another gravy…  a Giada DeLaurentiis red wine sauce he drizzled over perfectly cooked filet mignons…

Soooooo, for you gravy lovers and non-gravy lovers… all aboard!

Caramelized Onion-Balsamic Gravy
(for turkey)
From Bon Appetit


5-1/2 cups (or more) canned, low-salt chicken broth
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

½ cup balsamic vinegar


Combine turkey neck and giblets, 5-1/2 cups broth, quartered onion and bay leaf in saucepan.  Simmer until reduced to 3 cups liquid, skimming occasionally, about 1 hour.  Strain turkey stock.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions; sauté 10 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon rosemary and 1 tablespoon sage and sauté until onions are golden, about 10 minutes.  Add flour, stir 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in turkey stock.  Boil until gravy thickens, stirring often, about 3 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon each rosemary and sage.

Transfer turkey to platter.  Tent w/ foil.  Pour juices from pan into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat.  Add juices to gravy. 

Add vinegar to roasting pan.  Bring vinegar to simmer over medium heat, scraping up browned bits.  Pour mixture into heavy small saucepan.  Boil until reduced to ¼ cup, about 3 minutes then add to gravy.  Rewarm gravy/ thin w/ more chicken broth, if desired.  Season w/ salt and pepper to taste.

Courtesy Giada DeLaurentiis


6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup tomato paste
2-1/2 cups dry red wine


Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Season w/ salt.  Add the garlic and oregano and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Whisk in the wine.  Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet/saucepan from the heat.  Strain the sauce into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the solids in the strainer and return the sauce to the saucepan and bring back to slow simmer.

Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into ½ inch chunks and whisk in the sauce a little at a time.  Season the sauce, to taste, w/ salt and pepper.

Drizzle the sauce over the filets and serve.

Sauce is enough for 6 filets

Sunday, December 5, 2010



Yup… more than a week later and I still feel like a stuffed turkey.

Richard and I started off Thanksgiving week (yes, I mean WEEK) arriving at my brother and sister-in-law’s (hereafter referred to as Bob & Nguyen) house in Sacramento after a grueling, pouring-rain, 6-hour drive on the I-5 to be greeted with single malt, fine wine and a glorious rib roast dinner w/ the most delicious mini popovers ever.  Bob is so in love w/ his new popover pan he wanted to show it to everyone the way a child shows off a new doll or truck – but Nguyen did put her foot down when he wanted to take it to bed w/ them.

The next day at our niece Hoang and her husband Eric’s home in San Francisco – more single malt, more fine wine and a huge Italian dinner.  Playing w/ their 8 month old son, Ari, did not burn enough calories.

Then there were leftover roast beef & cheddar grilled paninis, cheeseburgers, wine tasting, salads, ham, roast chicken, salmon on pureed peas and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet.

But turkey Thursday arrived and Richard and my cousins put on a feast that would have made the Pilgrims and native Americans proud.  I set the tables (hey, there were a lot of us!). 

Besides the obligatory turkey courtesy of John & Richard (what would Thanksgiving be w/o one!?) and stuffing (courtesy of Linda) – gravy via Richard (I’ll be doing a separate blog on this gravy) and mashed potatoes via John & Richard… there were the scrumptious appetizers from cousin Michele: 

Warm crab dip…

Tangy meatballs…

and eggplant caviar that’s become a favorite (see recipe below)

There was Richard’s Brussels sprouts w/ bacon…

and his sweet potato casserole w/ bourbon & pecans (see recipe below)…

and Michele’s sautéed stringbeans…

Stefany’s chocolate cupcakes w/ peanut butter frosting, topped w/ peanut butter cups…

Tarah’s pumpkin pie …

and an apple pie thrown in, just in case anyone remotely felt there wasn’t enough food…

One of the great things about large family gatherings (14 this time) – there’s an instant available clean-up crew. 

And, after that joyous meal, no one was complaining… some where snoozing maybe...

but not complaining.        

When we left for LA a few days later, I jogged home.



6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups pecan halves (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prick sweet potatoes w/ a fork and roast in a baking pan bake in middle of oven until tender – about an hour.

When just cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and transfer half to a food processor.  Add bourbon and 6 tablespoons butter and puree 30 seconds.  Transfer puree to a large bowl.  Puree remaining potatoes in food processor until completely smooth and transfer to bowl.  Stir puree until combined well and season w/ salt and pepper.  Transfer puree to a 2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.  Puree may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.  Bring puree to room temperature before proceeding.

Reduce oven temperature to 325.

In a shallow baking pan spread pecans in one layer and bake in middle of over until fragrant – about 10 minutes.  Toss hot pecans w/ remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and coarse salt.  Pecans may also be made 2 days ahead and kept in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Arrange pecans on top of puree and sprinkle w/ brown sugar. 

Bake puree in upper third of oven until heated through and pecans are slightly browned – about 30 minutes.

Serves 8



2 eggplants peeled and chopped
one large onion chopped
3-4 or more chopped garlic cloves
green olives (optional)
capers (optional)
tomato sauce

Saute all in a great big frying pan with olive oil (quite a bit cause the eggplant really soaks it up) don’t worry its a healthful fat…
salt, pepper, I add Adobo seasoning and picant seasoning and basil
When eggplant is soft add some sliced green olives, and capers if you like. Then add your tomato sauce… a good thick sauce. Michele used one of those 5# cans and dumped it in until she liked the consistency. Heat through then splash on some more olive oil if you like.
Transfer to serving dish and refrigerate. She likes this dish because she can make it the night before, then reheats it on the stove and serves warm with crackers.