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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Perfect Peppermint Platter!

With this recipe for peppermint platters, you really can even eat the dishes! Now, I don't know the extent of Willy Wonka's involvement with this spectacular eye and mouth candy--all I know is what a little bird from told me! Use your platter to serve bite-sized desserts, such as festively wrapped holiday chocolates (as I did), pile up a of batch of brownies--or smash it on the kitchen counter top and nibble on the pieces during the marathon showing of A Christmas Story.

The link is here with the recipe in a sprawling slideshow format but I've assembled it quite neatly below for your holiday enjoyment.

Peppermint Platter
Special items: you will need a 9" springform pan for this as well as a sheet of parchment paper

1 bag peppermint candies of the Starlight variety (60 or so pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating up, unwrap the candies and place (1/4" apart?) into springform pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure all of the candy is resting on the paper. I would recommend first drawing a circle on the paper using the pan bottom as a guide to create the circle before evenly lining the base of the pan with it. Place in oven for 6-8 minutes, until candy has melted. Do keep an eye on this, depending on the reliability of your oven! LET COOL COMPLETELY. Push base of springform pan from bottom to release your peppermint platter and ease parchment off of it, gently pulling it off (should come off very easily).

Here's the platter, simple  and unadorned. And oh, so tasty too!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Friend Writes...Where's the Beef?

In Pittsburgh, there are apparently many mysteries--just ask Michael Chabon about his marvelous book, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh--however, this simply made, hearty beef stew from Pittsburgh is not among them. If you have a mind to, check out The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh page on facebook (where my friend found this recipe), and here's a link to what some may consider a variation of this preparation that I made, the French Boeuf a la Bourguignonne from Julia Child's The French Chef Cookbook

In the meantime, say hello to Pittsburgh's own television host Kay Neumann!

Kay Neumann's Beef Stew
1 tablespoon shortening (we used canola oil)
1 1/2 pounds lean beef, cubed (about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick)
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 small-medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup carrots, sliced (about 2 or 3)
1 1/2 cups potatoes, diced or cut (we diced about 3 medium potatoes in 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 cup celery, sliced (about 1 stalk)
Place the flour in a deep bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the beef and cook until beef is browned (stir almost constantly so the flour won’t clump). Add the water, chopped onions and remaining ingredients except the vegetables. Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the vegetables and cook another hour.
Note alternative: After the beef was browned, some people added all remaining ingredients, including the vegetables. Cook the stew, stirring occasionally on low to medium until the vegetables were soft, about 1 1/2 hours.

Do enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Words to the Dog Walker

In Friendship Fog, our hero Clifford Bowles--the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire--offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. Download the ebook or find my novel in hardcover and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Do enjoy!

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his advice on modern etiquette.
  • Discourage your pets from soaking others’ garbage with their urine streams? If only to lessen the work of the sanitation engineer?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In The Kitchen with Jacks--Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

As we just made our first meal together, I'd like to introduce our IOHR rescue 3-year old terrier mix, Jackpot! She's guarding a pig ear (well, sort of) seen in the photo above, Waldo. Maybe we should call her Waldo.

Now, while it is ill-advised to feed avocado to a dog, I have no problem scooping a bunch of chips into some really good guacamole made tableside in a lava rock vessel (molcajete, si?), or setting up a sliced avocado salad with grapefruit on a bed of peppery arugula greens tossed in a light shallot vinaigrette. So it was an obvious temptation to attempt this delicious pasta dish with avocado--and so quickly prepared! Jacks was a perfect pet throughout all of it, observing out of harm's way from her fleecy dog bed--but alas she had to stick to her Orijen adult dog food (comprised of "free-run chicken, turkey, wild-caught fish & nest-laid eggs") while I stuck a fork in my swirls of pasta lightly coated with a creamy, pleasantly green, guilt-free avocado sauce. Garnish freely with parsley as that is something your dog can certainly try!

Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce
Serves 6-8
Adapted from

12 oz spaghetti
2 avocados, halved pitted and peeled
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bunch scallions
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 6-8 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the avocados, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth.

When the pasta is tender, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the reserved water to the avocado mixture and process until smooth.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, portion the pasta onto plates and garnish with parsley.

Do enjoy, and well, arf! Thanks for the help, Jacks!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pear Galette

In A Well-Seasoned Appetite, Molly O'Neill's collection of  "recipes from an American kitchen," she wrote about her dissatisfaction with pears for not being apples. I've always believed O'Neill was stating that while she was quite pleased by pears, she simply wished that they weren't gritty, and rather that they were also as tingly crisp as apples. While I wholeheartedly agree, I had no problem taking a bite out of this recipe for pear galette and quickly scarfed down (winter time, get it?) two slices. But to round out the point in a way, I do however find quince to be a kindly considered hybrid of apples and pears, respecting both parties.

This dessert is elegant and designed to impress but honestly it's not even that difficult and moves along pleasantly. Just have your frangipane ingredients all measured out for convenience sake, and use care when dealing with the delicate business of slicing the pears. Work quickly too, so your pie dough doesn't lose its vigor before being transferred to the rimmed baking sheet (or pie dish, as I used).

Edges brushed with egg wash before going into the oven...

While making my galette, quite by happenstance, Laura Nyro  sang out on my stereo, "...marzipan sweet bakin out in December..." How rich! (while frangipane and marzipan do have their differences, the lyric was certainly apropos enough here) for sour cream on that? Extra jam topping? I'd be delighted!

The recipe for Pear Galette below and the direct link with a more printer-friendly page is here.

From the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen:

Pear Galette

For the frangipane:
1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) sliced almonds
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1  tsp. almond extract
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 

3 firm but ripe pears, preferably Comice or Anjou

1 batch Basic Pie Dough
1 egg beaten with 2 tsp. water
1/4 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) apricot jam 

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C).

To make the frangipane, in a food processor, combine the almonds, sugar and salt and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and melted butter and process until the mixture comes together. Set aside.

Cut the pears in half through the stem end and remove the cores with a melon baller. Slice the pears very thinly vertically, stopping 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem so the pear slices stay attached at the stem end.

On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the pie dough into a round 13 inches (33 cm) in diameter and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Trim off any ragged edges to make an even 12-inch (30-mm) round.

Evenly spread the frangipane over the dough, leaving a 2-inch (5-cm) border uncovered. Fan the pears in a decorative pattern on top of the frangipane, cutting the pear halves in half vertically if necessary to make them fit. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, forming loose pleats all around the edge and leaving the center open. Using the sheet of parchment paper, transfer the galette and parchment to a rimmed baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the galette with the egg wash.

Bake the galette until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife and the crust is golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While the galette is cooling, in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the jam until it is liquefied. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the tart with a thin coating of the jam. Cut the galette into slices and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8. 

The Frisky Fitzy Cocktail

At a recent gathering, our friend cuddled up to this cozy cocktail, at once enlivened and enveloped by its warming blanket. Shouldn't you just feel out the Frisky Fitzy and try it on for size this season? It's a peach!

Frisky Fitzy
(Serves 1)

3 parts peach cider (or apple cider with peach juice)
1 part Rough Rider Bourbon (any good Bourbon you have at home or that strikes your fancy will certainly do)

Gently warm your peach cider. Temper a sturdy, capacious cocktail glass of choice with a few shots of warm water, then spill out before adding in warmed cider. Perhaps use a hammered copper mug instead and warm the cider right in it, stove top, over a low flame. Pour in your Bourbon, coddle it gently in a swirling fashion with a deft wrist, garnish as you like (bruleed orange slice? candy cane? cinnamon stick?) and serve. Your guests are sure to warm up to you as well!

Do enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Turkey Chili & Wine Engagement

Having squeezed the life out of the Gourmet November/2008 issue for our Thanksgiving menu, we found yet another recipe to duly dispatch of our near-to-ragged carcass: our unsuspecting turkey (shown above) was about to be turned into turkey chili! What a cozy Saturday afternoon too, just around ten of us, lazing about with wine glasses in hand with forkfuls of satisfying chili in the other. Perfectly paired reds included a Temperanillo, Sangiovese and Malbec--the white was a single unoaked Chardonnay-Viognier blend from Languedoc. Aromas of The Spice House's mulling spices with apple and peach cider further filled the room (and some of  it went down with a shot of Bourbon here and there, but more on that later) as we made another go of the festive feasting holiday.

Turkey Chili
Makes 6 to 8 servings (We doubled this by using more beans* and another can of whole tomatoes and good thing too—the 10 of us couldn’t stop eating!)

1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 (19-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
2 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1-inch pieces
*We added in a can of cannellini beans. The addition of 1 TB cumin, 1 TB garlic powder and 1 tsp or so Penzey’s chipotle powder turned out to be essential!

Cook onion and peppers in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Add spices and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, breaking them up with back of a spoon, then add beans, water, and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
Stir in turkey and let stand, covered, until heated through, 5 minutes. 

We let the chili sit in the refrigerator overnight, brought our pot to room temperature the next day and let it simmer back to full heat for about an hour. Serve with shredded Mexican cheeses, sour cream, limes, tortilla chips and Fritos!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cheese Fondue in a Pumpkin & Other Delights

Gourmet magazine was most regrettably retired back in 2008. I however, fortunately, was not. For it was there, in the final November 2008 issue (I have another gruesomely sentimental copy still wrapped in the plastic, cuddling next to my beloved Gourmet 70's back issue stash) that I culled together this year's Thanksgiving menu (links provided here by yours truly). And what a wonderful, Dickensian feast in merrie olde England it seemed, once all laid out on the table! Most of it was made the day before (at least in parts), and other delights subtly assembled while the turkey that Baby prepared sat to consider its satsuma tangerine-and-herb-stuffed cavity, at rest. Summoning motes of clarity, I set the table two days before.

Cunning coriander and rosemary goat cheese marbles skewered with parsley leaves were a cozy nibble...

before the great pumpkin fondue arrived, filled with layers of mixed Emmental and gruyere cheeses, a light bechamel, and sturdy slices of miche country bread. We swooned and supped laudably and audibly too over the instantly comforting innards, ladled out into our bowls, with spooned crescents of pumpkin pulled from within for (very) good measure. This was very simple to prepare, except for the careful business of slicing off the stubborn tops. Short of procuring a reciprocating saw, the only thing I might suggest is taking hold of your strongest, most resilient knife (probably a well-sharpened butcher's knife) as I did and nimbly hacking away at the beast with a few deliberate whacks. Although this particular recipe was on the Thanksgiving roster, it will serve you and your guests well anytime through the winter months and act as a wonderful gift for Christmas, tableside. Consider my chicken pot pie in a pumpkin as well, always a favorite!

We paused with a smartly civilized watercress salad with smoked sable (a.k.a. black cod, found at our local bagel place) and beets, diced and stacked like a terrine on top of the green watercress sprigs. The beets marinated overnight in a tart shallot and fresh grapefruit juice (my idea, instead of lemon juice) vinaigrette.

The traditional pork pie course made its way...

highly suited for sopping up with our gravy (see turkey recipe below). I made the pork pies a week ahead of time and froze them--as I suggest you do too--and thawed them out the night before our dinner, back into the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Behold our Tom! Quite carved obviously, having been injected with white wine, and melted black truffle butter (a mixture of purchased black truffle paste with butter), the recipe road map here! Tinker with it as you will. More about tending to old Tom is found here, during our trip to Turks and Caicos a few years ago.

Amiable sides were comprised of our compote, with red pearl onions, quince (I used quince paste!) and fresh cranberries...

Also added to our festive mix was a trio featuring mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables (thanks super duper delivery service Fresh Direct!) and a stunningly seductive, silken parsnip puree with sauteed Brussels sprouts that I made myself.

Gourmet suggests an apple granita as a palate cleansing kick-off to dessert but we found a time-saving, luscious Italian pear sorbetti instead, and certainly any brightly tart fruit sorbet will tingle the taste buds to the same effect.

Desserts were unapologetically store-bought pumpkin and pecan pies (courtesy again of Fresh Direct). Our merry band politely nibbled only, as we had naturally become as stuffed as our turkeys, and quite without apology as well at that! I urge you to try all of these terrific recipes over the upcoming months, whatever the occasion--and do enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Friendly Interview

Back on the cyberwaves for a podcast interview talking about  my new  novel, Friendship Fog. Click here to lend an ear. Thanks to the folks at! Also go to for more info.

Friendship Fog is an urban fairy tale for anyone who has ever been in love ... or searched for it desperately. From a Fourth of July celebration in 1976 introducing four young lives in Friendship, Maine to modern day Manhattan, this charming cocktail infused with arresting humor spans the decades in a singular, fanciful exploration of the heart and mind—and ultimately, friendship. Clifford Bowles is now the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire while in the midst of a lonely midlife crisis. However, his boozy best friend Van Dillon is a prominent theatrical agent, whom fate has recently delivered into the paws of a hunky veterinarian. Orlanda DeCardinier, a ridiculous psychic career coach, has a bigger hand in all of the business than even she realizes as the estranged Laura Trelawny, a frazzled psychiatrist, re-emerges to reveal a most disquieting secret that affects them all.

I hope you do enjoy Friendship Fog

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dark and Stormy

Pulled from the restless, tempest-tossed pages of my novel The Murdery Delicious High Seas Horror, this lurching libation may assuage the guilt-ridden glut of overly burdened bellies from the recent Thanksgiving holiday. Do enjoy!

The Murdery Delicious High Seas Horror, the sequel to The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery is available on amazon and Go to for more info.

{As We Proceed...}

Dark and Stormy
(Serves one insomniac)
4 awful ounces of ginger beer
1 1/2 parts blackened, rheumy rum
Wedges from shriveled finger limes

Avert your eyes as crashing rock fill a highball glass. Further flood with 1 1/2 ounces rum, and if you can bear it, rid the limes of their soulless juices and toss into the tempest.

Thanks to for the pic; Tony Cenicola/The New York Times; styling, Toby Ceccini.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Friendship Fog - VIDEO TRAILER!

The one-minute video trailer for my new novel Friendship Fog is now available for your own private screening. Download the ebook or find it in hardcover and paperback at AmazonBarnes & Noble and iTunes. Video trailers for my Murdery Delicious series here as well. Do enjoy!

Friendship Fog is an urban fairy tale for anyone who has ever been in love ... or searched for it desperately. From a Fourth of July celebration in 1976 introducing four young lives in Friendship, Maine to modern day Manhattan, this charming cocktail infused with arresting humor spans the decades in a singular, fanciful exploration of the heart and mind—and ultimately, friendship. Clifford Bowles is now the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire while in the midst of a lonely midlife crisis. However, his boozy best friend Van Dillon is a prominent theatrical agent, whom fate has recently delivered into the paws of a hunky veterinarian. Orlanda DeCardinier, a ridiculous psychic career coach, has a bigger hand in all of the business than even she realizes as the estranged Laura Trelawny, a frazzled psychiatrist, re-emerges to reveal a most disquieting secret that affects them all. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friendship Fog - NOW AVAILABLE!

As you consider your family for the holidays, also remember all of  your...friends! #FriendshipFog!

My new novel, #Friendship Fog, NOW READY FOR PURCHASE!

Download the ebook or find it in hardcover and paperback at AmazonBarnes & Noble and iTunes.

Do enjoy!

Forever grateful,


Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Great Pumpkin Hallowe'en Treat!

I would like to present here a little decorative project that really is rather easy to do and certainly lends an air of festivity to Hallowe'en!

1 sad, forlorn paper bag, perhaps once home to a long forgotten bologna and mayonnaise sandwich on white bread
1 sheet of copy paper carefully retrieved from a basket primarily used for waste
1 watercolor set with paint brush (roughly $3.49, found at a sundries store)
Some water from a leaky faucet
1 black, inky pen

Inspect the bag for bugs and remove them, if you wish
Separately, brush striations of black watercolor paint all over the piece of paper. Let dry (2-3 minutes).
While paint is drying, use the pen to artfully address the bag, as I have done, with the words 'I got a rock'
Crumple up the piece of paper to form your rock shape and insert in bag
Place on a child's pillow, or on the doorstep of a pestersome neighbor or grueling relative
*Note: If the decoration is for your own child, alert them that this is a grave warning unless they simmer down.

Do enjoy and Happy Hallowe'en, everybody!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Buy My Book!

Available now on, and may be found at your local retailer!

Friendship Fog is an urban fairy tale for anyone who has ever been in love ... or searched for it desperately. From a Fourth of July celebration in 1976 introducing four young lives in Friendship, Maine to modern day Manhattan, this charming cocktail infused with arresting humor spans the decades in a singular, fanciful exploration of the heart and mind—and ultimately, friendship. Clifford Bowles is now the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire while in the midst of a lonely midlife crisis. However, his boozy best friend Van Dillon is a prominent theatrical agent, whom fate has recently delivered into the paws of a hunky veterinarian. Orlanda DeCardinier, a ridiculous psychic career coach, has a bigger hand in all of the business than even she realizes as the estranged Laura Trelawny, a frazzled psychiatrist, re-emerges to reveal a most disquieting secret that affects them all. 

Do enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Toast to French Toast!

A thank you goes out to Red and her beau for passing along this particular piece of inspiration--French Toast Muffins! They told me about their creation and I was immediately intrigued by the hybrid of a bread pudding of sorts and muffins, resulting in the French Toast love child! They spoke of the usual ingredients (eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon) but instead of using slices of basic bread, they chose challah, torn up and stuffed into their muffin tins! Now, I don't have any muffin tins, odd as that may sound, but I did have some disposable foil mini loaf pans that were rattling around in the cupboard, so I used one of those for my own modest repast. Use whatever suitable ingredients you may have on hand or those found in your favorite recipe for French Toast and set to work. My version was very easy came out quite well. A spritz of Cointreau or brandy might be a nice finishing touch to the syrup added to the top of your muffins/loaves and certainly feel free to add in some chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts (and crumbled, crispy bacon...?). Whatever you do, this is a perfectly portable dish, be it loaf or muffin, to be delivered to a friend's brunch table or simply enjoyed for breakfast at home with steaming coffee, fresh juice and of course, a liberal slathering of butter! Grab on the way to work or consider as a dessert, topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce!

'The French Daily' included my musings on French Toast here! Scroll down on the site, the feature is on the right.

French Toast Loaf
(Serves four comfortably for a lovely breakfast accompaniment)
4 x 6 1/2-inch foil loaf pan 
4 challah rolls, torn apart by hand
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or maple syrup)
1/2 TB ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp lemon zest from fresh lemon
A few fresh grinds of black pepper
Pinch or two salt

Pre-heat 400-degree oven. Lightly coat pan with butter or a few sprays of Pam. Whisk together wet ingredients in a serviceable bowl and add in spices. This is where the few drops of liqueur could be added in as well before mixing in some chopped nuts. Add challah pieces and coat thoroughly (it is very important to soak all the pieces) mashing it all together with your fingers and tightly molding it together before slipping the mixture into your pan. Spray with Pam. Put into oven for five minutes before reducing heat to 350-degrees for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven and pour maple syrup on top and let rest for five minutes before serving.  

Behold the seemingly layered innards of our loaf! At a quick glance, one might mistake it for a sumptuously good terrine or a gooey mille-feuille pastry!

A warm slice soaked with melted butter about to perform a disappearing act--into my belly! Do enjoy (and don't forget to share)!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Part Three!

Part Three...a SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles
Mr. Bowles offers his advice on furnishing the home.

  • string shimmering white Christmas icicle lights about your kitchen year round?
  • wrap a faux white mink throw over yourself as you tuck into bed?
  • seek out antique lady head vases and fill them with rosy pink peonies?
  • give crystal or Wedgwood as a housewarming gift or birthday present to start a dear friend’s collection?
  • utilize Japanese black lacquered trays by filling them with persimmons for centerpieces?
  • or enliven your table with leafy kumquats still on their branches and also consider miniature apples?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Part Two!

Part Two...a SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his sartorial advice and consul on the finer points of one's appearance.

  • Wear a whistle?
  • Wear a monocle to complement your evening attire?
  • Splash cool water on your face more often? It tightens the pores.
  • Sport black velvet riding pants as an antidote to an ordinary day?
  • Consider your jacket as a handy satchel, filling the pockets with necessities such as cigarettes, breath mints, and a comb?
  • Forego all manner of Pride wear?
  • Stop tinting your lashes?
  • Stitch a wide leather belt with your name and telephone number on it?
  • Think of sunglasses as a headband to keep the hair off the face for those of you with longer locks?
  • Have delicious patches of fabric sewn on to your favorite old cashmere sweater with the elbows blown out?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Clifford Bowles' Designs for Entertaining - A September Supper

In which our hero of Friendship Fog, Mr. Bowles, suggests a mindful menu deliciously designed to delight, from his new, best-selling book on entertaining!

Clifford Bowles’ Designs for Entertaining
A September Supper
Serves four

Raspberry Lambic
Endive with roasted chestnuts, gorgonzola, and fig jam with drizzled balsamic honey
Salad of cubed golden beets, corn, and basil with red vinegar dressing
Chicken pot pie in buttercup squash
Latticed McIntosh apple strudel swirl
Spiked cinnamon coffee

As our sunburns fade and summer slips away, we say goodbye to our seasonal friends and leave our vacation vista behind—whether it be a rental cottage by the lake, campground, or family summer place—and prepare to face the fall. Autumn is when seeds are planted like secrets in the ground not yet frozen, where they grow, mature, and develop just beneath the surface, waiting patiently until spring to deliver wondrous surprises. Now that we’ve returned from the shore, so to speak, redolent of salt air, cookouts, and clambakes, I suggest getting back to your roots (and tubers) and setting down to your hometown favorites. For me, it’s the splendors of an autumn in New Hampshire. I’ve created an intimate fall menu perfect to share among four dear old friends. Based on fruits of the season, I’ve incorporated the chestnuts we used to pluck off the trees and roast as children, buttercup squash, and included my Nana’s recipe for latticed McIntosh apple strudel. Trips to the nearby McIntosh orchard when I was a child shine in my memory like the apples. If you are lucky enough to have the weather for it, plan your gathering out of doors with the changing leaves as a backdrop. Perhaps you may just want to clink a glass to the change of the seasons and drink up the last of summer as you and your closest close up your summer home.
Clifford Bowles

Chilled Beet Soup with Grapefruit

Perhaps a drunk, rather overworked intern took the helm one day at Quinciple. I can't confirm that, but the food box delivery service with recipe cards that correspond to the produce enclosed showed up on my doorstep with a recipe card heralding Chilled Beet Soup with Yogurt and Blood Oranges--meanwhile the recipe itself and the produce that went along with it insisted that ruby grapefruit be used for this cheering soup starter. There's even a wooden juicer (not required) in the accompanying photo and half of a frazzled, juiced blood orange next to it. Anyway: of little matter. Our chilly friend is a perfect transitional dish to be served year round--a hint of fresh spring may be found in parsley and scallion garnishes over the lull of a summer of ripe fruit, with earthy beets serving a reminder that cooler months may be soon upon us.

I never made this when the box arrived (I used the ingredients for some other purpose back then), and only dug out the recipe card recently, sometime later, and made it for myself with ingredients already at home. Instead of the nuisance of pulling out a knife to supreme the grapefruit (removing the peel and pith) I used some fantastic pink grapefruit juice that I had on hand, adding in a burst of flavor at the last minute. I recommend chilling the super soup overnight, not just an hour, as the recipe suggests.

Chilled Beet Soup with Yogurt and Grapefruit
Serves 2
Open up a package of fantastic already peeled and cooked Love Beets (usually four beets) and quarter them. Add in half a sliced green apple, core and stem removed along with the white parts of two scallions cut into 1/2 inch pieces in a small-ish, sturdy pot with a tablespoon of olive oil (I used coconut oil), sweating for about 10 minutes. Add some water to barely cover, bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer gently, until vegetable are truly tender. This does not take long. Add salt and pepper and throw everything in a blender, until a smooth puree is achieved. Add in about a 1/2 cup of fresh pink grapefruit juice and chill, covered! Overnight, is preferable, I think. Serve with drizzled plain yogurt and chopped green parts of scallions and parsley. Easy? You bet! Perhaps serve with a crisp white wine, as undoubtedly that intern I mentioned did. Do enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ginger Cookies

I discovered Clementine Paddleford in an article about the culinary pioneer back in 2002 when Saveur featured her recipe for Sweet Potato Tipsy, now a holiday go-to for me and mine. Hers is a strange case. Unlike Amelia Earhart, she didn't vanish entirely; she merely disappeared into near obscurity. Similar to Earhart, Paddleford too piloted her own plane. But among other means of transportation as well, her purpose was to cover thousands and thousands of miles of American territory over the course of 12 years to explore the courses of its regional home cooks. The results may be found in 1960's considerable, culinary tome, How America Eats. Ms. Paddleford also has the enviable credit on her C.V. of being the New York Herald Tribune's food editor for 30 years. I am delighted to report that I recently won a bid for a first edition, autographed copy of How America Eats in mint condition on eBay.

While the collection features a host of gripping, curious recipes that may threaten to pull at the palate of today (cabbage and scrapple, pretzel clam soup, cheese muff, fish balls) there are also gems such Dr. Coffin's Lobster Stew, Mrs. Dull's Perfection Sponge Cake and homespun comforts such as baked beans, butterhorn rolls, Southern fried chicken (with charmingly archaic 'broilers'), and ginger cookies. I went for the latter first, adapted here, in my own personal exploration cutting the recipe in half (full recipe below). I didn't want to roll out 8 dozen cookies! The note included says that the  cookies are 'very hard' and I found that to certainly true, too hard in fact. Unsatisfactory! I let them sit out for a few days to get stale, I suppose you'd say, to make them more malleable, so they may actually be enjoyed without a notion of cracking the teeth. Delicious with a slather of softened cream cheese and a sprinkled  flurry of confectioners sugar for the kids--or a casual Champagne and tea party for adults!

Cream the butter with the spices to get started...

18th Century Ginger Cookies
1 cup butter/margarine
4 TB ginger
1TB nutmeg
1 TB cinnamon
Dash of salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups dark molasses
1/2 pint light cream/evaporated milk
8-9 cups sifted flour
Blend butter, spices and salt. Add sugar and cream thoroughly, Warm together molasses and cream; add gradually to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in flour until a moderately stiff dough is formed. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 10-12 minutes.

About 8 dozen 3-inch cookies.

Note: This recipe makes a very hard cookie.

Add the warmed molasses and cream together with the creamed mixture...

Finally, mix in the sifted flour!

I made a fine mess rolling out the dough on a floured counter but at least I was armed with Baby's great grandmother's rolling pin! It was the only thing she took, fleeing Belaruse at the turn of the last century, possessing the forethought to carry a kitchen tool and possibly a weapon as well; both for the sake of her family.

Couldn't you just abandon civility, embrace depravity here and lick this deep chestnut-colored confection right off of the counter?

Now, the little buggers stuck, so I would recommend working quickly (ie don't pause for a photo shoot) flouring liberally both counter and rolling pin, and chilling the mixture first. Continue to do so while each batch bakes until lightly browned--I don't have the capacity nor the inclination to bake eight dozen cookies, so as I mentioned, I made four dozen, a dozen at a time in the oven.

Another suggestion: line a trifle dish with these cookies to enhance your banana pudding. Now, onto the pretzel clam soup!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shouldn't You Just ... ?

A SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his advice on modern etiquette.

  • Sneeze more privately in public to avoid too much of a fuss?
  • Talk more conservatively on your cellular phone in public? The conversation does not involve two cans and a string. The person on the other end of the line can hear you. We all can hear you.
  • Use note cards for thank yous? Rather than a mere email, a phone call is preferable the next day too as a thank you for a dinner or cocktail party. Take the extra time as your host did for entertaining you.
  • Rein in your Vuitton wheelie bag when traveling? It needn’t be more than a foot behind you. Statistics show that most tripping accidents in airports and railway stations occur because of an unduly extended suitcase on wheels.
  • Discourage your pets from soaking others’ garbage with their urine streams? If only to lessen the work of the sanitation engineer?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Smoothie Operator

There I stood in front of the refrigerator, feeling a bit peckish, looking at what was left of a bottle of Naked Mighty Mango juice that was about to go home to Jesus in one week. Evolution's Sweet Greens comprised of spinach, kale, celery, apple and parsley with lemon (that had been crying out to me, "partake of my nutrients, please!") lingered next to it, near a carton of soy-gluten-dairy-free Silk unsweetened almond milk, longing to be put to better use than merely floating a bowl of cereal. Half a banana lay in wait as well. With about one cup each of the liquids, the banana and six ice cubes, I threw it all into the blender. You know what? It was absolutely delicious, refreshing, and loaded with stuff that does a body good. Most of the ingredients were all neatly dispatched, thereby making some more room in the fridge too. I think that makes me somewhat of a smoothie operator, don't you?

Do enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tomato-Less Marinara Sauce

Over the years,  I have developed a frustrating allergy to tomatoes and red wine. This does not mean I would need to race for an EpiPen having consumed either of these delights; I just more often then not have to avoid them or suffer the consequences of psoriasis and heartbreak. I gave up on wine years ago but pizza, pasta dripping in red sauce and Chicken Parmigiana have been a struggle. However, I have, oddly enough discovered places around Manhattan where I am not subject to outbreaks and bumps at all (and I vacuumed a pepperoni-laden gooey delicious pizza fantastic quite without impunity last summer in Spain). Odd, no? Please let me know if you have experienced similar allergies and how you've dealt with them!

I just discovered this recipe for a tomato-less marinara sauce where beets and carrots rise to the occasion as an alarmingly bright, grand substitute. Laced with oregano and sprinkled with pinches of Parmesan cheese and grinds of fresh black pepper and salt, these additions will all complement the dish and suffice...well, in a  pinch!

Click on the link here for the recipe and thanks to!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quickie Corn Chowder

I have said before that a little ingenuity is often a necessary ingredient in the kitchen. When making this particular corn chowder recipe (sent to me by my cousin, her source unknown), I was reminded of my own adage. As I set up all my ingredients on the counter to start cookin' I realized I had plum forgot to pick up sweet onions along with my other ingredients that afternoon! It was later in the evening and I didn't have the near temerity to go outside again. But what to do? After some thought, I sliced a huge clove of garlic into thirds and threw in three slices of crisply tart green apples to rally forth some sweetness. It was a marvelously successful idea! This "brothy" chowder needed a little thickening to my way of thinking too. So, at the end, I pureed a can of corn that I had on hand with a touch of its own liquid and stirred it back into the pot and let the whole thing simmer before I availed myself to the full, fine flavor of summer!

Summer Corn and Golden Potato Chowder
Makes 4 to 6 servings

(My suggestions in italics)

4 Tbsp. butter (I used Smart Balance dairy free, low sodium 'butter' which worked like a charm)
5 cups fresh corn kernels; reserve two cobs (I only had two ears so the aforementioned can of corn helped tremendously to thicken, but optional of course)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 large sweet onion, diced (about two cups)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 large Yukon gold potato, diced (I shamelessly used whole canned potatoes which saved time and work, even as I quickly diced them. I threw the taters in at the end just to warm them up)
3/4 cup half-and-half (I don't know about you, but I need to lighten up! Carnation evaporated skim milk worked out very well as more than an ample substitute)

1. Melt butter in a small stockpot over medium heat. Add corn kernels, thyme sprigs, diced onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until corn is tender but not browned.
2. Stir in broth (I only used three cups) and diced potato (or wait until the end if potatoes are canned). Increase heat to high; add reserved corn cobs (great idea to add body!), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Discard cobs and thyme stems. (Also fish out the large pieces of garlic and apples here, if you like)
3. Process 1/2 cup of corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Return processed mixture to stockpot, and stir in half-and-half. Serve immediately. (A garnish of fresh basil and dill is suggested but I just topped with grinds of black pepper and salt, to taste)

Do enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beet Tahini Dip

I found this recipe in the pages of the Aug./Sept. 2015 issue of Saveur--however, truth be told, I've found little else in the publication over the recent year. Pity. But anyway, surely, somewhere on this blog I've compared beets to Steinbeck's rich red earth, and here, this quick, ridiculously simple mixture makes the most of summer's bounty. I cut the recipe in half for just me, but below is the whole deal with my thoughts in italics. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Beet Dip
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 lb. beets, trimmed, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. I used a package of beets already peeled and cooked, as that's what I had on hand, sparing a hot stove top! And as I only had a 1/4 lb. at that, I added slivers of a crisp green apple to add body. Drain and peel the beets, then transfer to a blender along with 1/2 cup tahini, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, and 3 ice cubes. Season with salt and pepper and puree until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and 1 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts. I didn't use those as I don't much care for them.  Chill at least 20 minutes and serve with pita bread as suggested or snack crackers, such as Tam Tams. Do drizzle with a good olive oil, garnish with some chopped beets (try chopped walnuts too!) and a few stiff grinds of black pepper or a sprinkling perhaps of cumin.

Thanks to Saveur for the inspiration, despite its apparent, largely unsatisfying period of transition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ham Loaf for Everybody!

Okay, this dish was really just for Baby and me (with a simple side salad of greens and plenty of leftovers). Although the tasty little nugget might appear to be absolutely lurid and revolting, it was quite good and could certainly warrant being served at a cocktail party for a number of people as suggested by Arlene's Dahl's cookbook, No Time For Cooking! from 1961. We were assisted by a delicious pre-made potato salad with bacon from Fresh Direct. Couldn't have been easier as we stuffed the goods mixed with gelatin into our Le Creuset terrine to make it extra fancy and then let it chill in the refrigerator until firm and ready to be unmolded.

Also, as the cover indicates, "full-color photos, including Arlene at home." They are preternaturally colored and filled with explosively outrageous table settings.

I started to go hog-wild with the molds and also made what I called an Jell-O Aquarium World in a small copper mold replete with Berry-Blue Raspberry Jell-O, Swedish fish, mini-marshmallows for rocks, whipped cream for waves and crushed vanilla wafers for the surrounding sand. It was all quite hilarious, kids could help and would love it. We did.