You Have Got To Try This At Your Next Dinner Party !


AKA Drunken Strawberries

If you are under 21, go to your room. This dessert is for adults only! You won't believe that a dessert this good can be so simple to make. But it's true. I have been making this for decades and it has always been a hit at any dinner party. It's like two treats in one, a dessert and a wine cocktail perfect for after dinner.

All you need is 2 pnts of fresh strawberries, 2 1/2 cups of red wine (Merlot or Burgundy), and 2 heaping tablespoons of sugar. In a nice ornate clear glass bowl, mix the sugar and wine together. Taste and add 1 more tablespoon of suger if you want it sweeter. Wash,  then slice your strawberries lengthwise. Add them to the wine and stir very well. Cover securely with plastic wrap and refridgerate overnight. After your dinner, serve the strawberries in large martini glasses or wine glasses and pour the marinated wine over them. This recipe will serve about 4 people. A nice additional touch is to serve small dark chocolate truffles on the side.

You will impress your guests with this wonderful refreshing dessert. Combined, the strawberries and wine are so incredible together and a bite of the chocolate truffle will send your taste buds into overdrive. To finish, just sip the remaining wine as an after dinner drink. You will not be disappointed!  Bon Appetit...

A Word About Cooking With Wine and Spirits

Every kitchen (even yours) should have a bottle of red and white wine in the kitchen cabinet right next to the olive oil, salt and pepper, and all your other spices. Many dishes that we will make on this blog will call for a splash to a cup of it. I have however, had a few of you ask me about making non alcoholic substitutes for certain dishes that I show you.

An important thing we should remember when cooking directions call for wine. The cooking process will evaporate most of the alcohol within a few minutes and by the time your dish is ready, it will all have evaporated. An example of this is the Sauteed Steak and Salad dinner than I showcased recently. What you have left is the flavors in the wine without the alcohol. Those flavors have married with your spices and the butter you used to produce a wonderful rich sauce enhancing the dish. So remember, when cooking with wine, you won't have alcohol remaining.

Not everything we make on this blog with alcohol, however, calls for cooking. A clear example is the first dish we prepared, English Trifle. In this case, all the spirits we used are still there, alcohol and all. I can understand your concern. You want to make the dish but you really don't want to use any alcoholic content and you are asking yourself what else can one use?

Well, understanding your plight, with empathy I began to scour the internet for a site that would give us a chart of substitutes to assist those of you desiring to make these wonderful dishes without using any spirits. Well, I was successful! There is a wonderful site called GourmetSleuth that will give you all the substitutes you will need. The address is:

I hope you will find this web site very usedful and that we will continue to make wonderful appetizers, entrees, and desserts together. Remember though, cooking with wine will evaporate all the alcohol, so don't worry. Bon Appetit !

It Doesn't Get Better Than This

Steak And Salad. What A Marriage!

1 Saute/Frying pan (8" diameter at bottom)
1/2 lb Tenderloin or Sirloin Beef
3 cloves of garlic
2 pads of butter
1/2 cup of Burgundy wine
1 large handful of parsley chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
Course ground pepper
6 large leaves of Romaine lettuce

There are few things in life that get much better than this. At the same time, there are few folks that really can pull off a perfect steak and salad meal. I will be the first to admit that I have made a mistake on occasion in the past. I do very well nowdays with this, however. The ironic thing about this dinner is that it is very easy to put together. The secret is in knowing how to cook your steak to the level of "done" that you desire. I am going to show you how to make this dish exactly as you like it and when finished, you will know how simple it was to do. By the way, this recipe is for two people. Additionally, remember to have all the ingredients together and ready to use. Prepping is very important.

Let's start by spraying your frying pan with Pam so that we don't have a lot of sticking going on. Set your heat to high to start, heat pan a bit, and add about 3 tablespoons of your olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Allow oil to heat until you begin to see it smoke. The secret in getting your meat nice and caramelized is in getting your oil nice and hot before frying.

Now that the oil is nice and hot, add your meat and make sure that it is UNSEASONED. Salt added to raw meat will draw out the moisture and your finished steak may end up dryer than otherwise. Since cooking time plays a role in this, you may not notice a measureable difference, but play it safe and wait on the salt. Pepper will simply burn and lose its character, so wait on the pepper also. In this dish, you will be salting and peppering the sauce that we will make after the steak has been cooked. Allow 2 minutes on each side for rare, 3 minutes for medium to medium rare. I am doing 2 minutes each side.

While cooking, if your pan is getting too hot, you may turn your heat to medium high. You don't want a charred pan bottom. Once your meat is cooked to your liking, it should have a nice caramelized outer layer. Remove from pan and set on a plate uncovered. Now remove half the oil from the pan and turn your heat to medium, add your garlic, then the wine, and with a spatula, rub the bottom of the pan. This is called deglazing. Stir and add your butter. Cook about a minute or two to reduce liquid and allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Sauce should begin changing from red to a deeper reddish brown. Now add the parsley, salt, and pepper, stir, and give it a little taste for proper seasoning. Then for the final 30 seconds, add your steak back in along with any juices left in the plate. Take the steak out, slice into a few thick pieces, and spoon sauce over the top.

Hand cut your Romaine lettuce and toss with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Serve on a separate dish. Enjoy your meal with a nice Merlot, Pinot, or Bordeaux. And don't forget that nice crusty French bread so that you can soak up all that sauce. Yum! (photos by D Roche)

Tomato... Fruit Or Vegetable?

The Tomato
by D Roche (Nick)

So succulent, so radient
How beautiful you are
You're blushed with red
From nature's touch
With honored high regard
Since chefs held court
One question's led
Are you a fruit or veg?
If you ask me
It matters not
I love your slice or wedge
When dressed as fruit
With sprinkled sweet
Balsamic is your drink
And when in drag
With green romaine
The veg in you is treat
So thanks tomato
Or tomahto
You are my favorite one
That has allowed me
To partake
Through you this taste of sun

(photo provided by

The Winner Is...Coquilles Saint-Jacques

By a majority vote in our September Poll, you chose Coquilles Saint-Jacques as the dish you would most like me to prepare. I have not failed you. I prepared this King of Seafood dish for lunch with Mom today. As impressive and complicated as it looks, I assure you there is nothing to fear about its preparation, as I have promised to keep it simple for you. In merely one hour's time, you can be serving this at your dinner table and I kid you not when I say it tastes as delicious as it looks. Those of you that have had this at my dinner table will agree with me.

Coquilles Saint-Jacques is French for Scallops. Apparently, the scallop shells were a symbol of the Crusaders of the Order of Saint James (St. Jacques in French and Santiago in Spanish). James intervened to try and save the life of a drowning knight. When the knight emerged out of the sea covered with scallop shells, everyone proclaimed it as a miracle and the scallop was named Coquille Saint-Jacques in honor of James. And that's the story of Coquilles Saint-Jacques, which translates in English to The Shells of St. James. Now whether that was a history lesson or a folklore tale is for the reader to decide. I kind of like to think that it really happened.

The first thing you want to have before you make this dish is either authentic scallop shells (if you can get them off the knight) , ceramic scallop shell ramekins, or shallow oval shaped regular ramekins. Any of these can be found in stores like World Mart or Pier 1 Imports. You might also find them easily online. They shouldn't cost more than $3 each on the higher end. I got my authentic shells at World Mart a few years ago and my ceramic ones at Linens N Things a couple of years ago, before they closed down. In any case, make sure they are 5 to 6 inches in diameter and about an inch deep for the ramekins. If they are very inexpensive, pick up a dozen of them.

Now we can put together our shopping list. This dish will probably run you about $4.00 a serving; however, as you will see, it's worth every bite. I made 4 of them today and I spent about $15 and this recipe will serve 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entree. Get your pen and pad and here we go:

1/2 lb. of large sea scallops (large scallops stay more moist and succulent)
1/2 lb. of bay shrimp
1/2 lb. grated Swiss cheese (if you want to use Gruyere, even better but more expensive)
2 strips of plain bacon, fried semi crispy, chopped up and set aside
5 med button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 large shallot chopped finely
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of anise liquor (Ouzo, Ricard, or Pernod)
1 1/2 cups of milk or fat free half n half
1 cup of fish stock or chicken stalk, I prefer fish stock, really brings out the flavor
pepper (if you have white pepper, that's great, but not a deal breaker)

Remember, what will make your kitchen experience enjoyable is to do your prep work before the heat goes on. So do all your chopping, slicing, and measuring before anything else. Being organized makes cooking run smoother and mistakes hitting the high road.

Start with a pan that's about 10 inches in diameter and a couple of inches deep. Spray with a bit of Pam and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat at med high. Saute your shallots, garlic, and mushrooms together until ingredients get soft and shallots are translucent (about 3 minutes). You don't want your shallots and garlic to caramelize (get browned), so if your heat is too high, turn it down a bit. When ready, pour the anise liquor in and stir with a wooden spatula so as to "deglaze" the pan. Pour the ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Make sure your empty pan is clean of any debris from what you've just sauteed. Now the next step. You are doing just fine so far.

Now you are going to make a roux (pronounced roo). A roux is the base for a sauce. It is made with flour and fat, in this case, butter. One thing to remember is the more you cook a roux the darker it gets. If you want to make a darker or brown sauce, you cook at a higher heat. A light sauce will require you preparing the roux at a lower temperature so that it doesn't brown. With seafood, you want to make a "white" sauce, so turn your heat to medium low to start and add your butter. Once the butter has melted, add your flour and start stirring. I find a wooden spatula works great because you can easily scrape the bottom of the pan so nothing sticks. Once the flour has mixed well with the butter, keep stirring and turn the heat up just a bit. You will notice the mixture getting thicker and may even start looking like a paste. This is perfect so far.

Now you are going to slowly add the milk while constantly stirring, making sure the roux is mixing well with the liquid. You will notice the liquid thickening. Turn your heat up to medium and finish adding the milk. Stir and mix well and let it get to a real light boil (a few bubbles start appearing). Keep this from becoming a roaring boil, OK? Allow it to thicken and cook for a few minutes and then slowly add the fish (or chicken) stock, all the while stirring. Bring back to a slow bubbling, stir for about 5 minutes. This is allowing the flour to cook so your sauce won't have that pasty taste. When you're making a sauce with roux and liquid, always make sure the liquid is cold and not hot. Otherwise, you'll have clumpy sauce. Just remember, opposites attract.

Next, you are slowly going to add about half of your grated cheese to your sauce and stir. Remember, when you stir, be sure to be scraping at the bottom so there's no sticking. Once half the cheese is in your sauce, add your cooked mushrooms, shallots, and garlic and stir to blend. Now add your bacon, scallops and shrimp and allow to cook for no more than 4 more minutes. Add the parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Put your scallop shells (or ramekins) on a cookie sheet, turn your oven to broil, and the oven rack about 6 inches from the coils. Start spooning the ingredients into the shells to just about 1/8 inch from the rim. Now sprinkle the cheese generously on top to cover the sauce completely. Pop it into the oven and let broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and gets a nice browning. Remove from oven and let set 5 minutes before serving. Serve with crusty French bread, a tossed green salad, and a glass of white burgundy or Chardonnay. You are going to think you died and went to heaven and your guests will be asking you for the recipe; however, you'll know what to tell them, right? Go to that's what you'll tell them. (photo by Dominique Roche)

Rice And Beans a la Foo Foo?

 The good ole rice and bean dish is about to go to the head of the fancy class and find its right place amongst your white linen, fine silverware, and crystal wine goblet. Yes, what you see is plain and simple, delicious, guest impressive, and nutritious rice 'n beans.

Did you know that most of us eat with our eyes before our stomachs? It's true, we tend to judge how good and appetising something is by how it looks on our plates before our taste buds tell us otherwise. If something looks good on your plate, you will enjoy it much more than if it's slapped together like you remember of your school cafeteria lunch line. Furthermore, we tend to savor the dish considerably, thereby eating it slower, resulting in a smaller portion satisfying us. End result is fewer calories and fewer inches. That is one of the secrets of the French and why they tend to stay trim, although a nice bottle of red doesn't hurt either.

At first sight, you were probably thinking oh my gosh that looks complicated to make. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, this blog will stress simplicity in the kitchen. Presentation is 75% of the battle and preparation is the other 25%. So are you ready? Let's get our ingredients together first. Remember in my previous post I discussed how to make molds? If you haven't read it yet, go back and do so now. Here's what we need:

1 home made (or store bought) metal mold - tuna can works great for this
1 cup of French lentils (they're more round and stay firmer than flat traditional ones)
1 cup of long grain wild rice
2 cans of chicken stock and 1 cup of water
1 med red onion, chopped
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (that means chopping them into tiny tiny pieces)
2 med carrots sliced lengthwise and then chopped
4 med white or dark mushrooms, cut in halves and then sliced
1 med ripe tomato, chopped, seeds and all
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon style mustard
1 tbsp tomato paste (I buy a tube and store it in the fridge and use it when I need a little)
1 med zucchini sliced lengthwise with a peeler (so it makes very thin slices)
1/4 cup of olive

Here's a little secret that makes cooking in the kitchen easy and a lot less stressful. Do your preparation work before you even turn the stove on. So now take and do all your slicing, chopping, mincing, and measuring, and get that all out of the way.

Assuming that you're finished preparing everything, now get a medium size pot and over medium high heat, pour the olive oil in. Allow the oil to heat up a bit and then add your onions and your garlic, let cook for a few minutes till the onions start getting translucent. Now add your carrots and stir. Cook for a few more minutes. Next, add your mushrooms and tomato, stir. Lower your heat to medium now.

Now you are going to add your rice and lentils; however, first I want to talk about what to look for. As I mentioned earlier, be sure to purchase French lentils. They are more round, darker, and stay firmer during cooking. I believe they are also richer tasting. As far as the rice is concerned, be sure to use long grain wild rice with the husk still attached. You'll get a better taste and more nutrition that way. The husk will provide you with a ton of fiber, but don't worry.

Now go ahead and add your rice and stir well. Before you add your lentils, make sure that you have rinsed them with cold water. Add your lentils and stir. Once the ingredients have been well incorporated, add your 2 cans of chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and tomato paste. Again, stir until well mixed. Over medium heat still, bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover your pot and lower the heat to low. Let cook about 30 minutes and check, stir. Keep a close watch on the level of liquid. Cover, cook for another 15 minutes and check. If it looks like you need a bit more liquid, pour some of the water you have set aside. Cook covered another 15 minutes and then add your parsley. Add salt and pepper and taste for correct seasoning level. Check for doneness. The lentils and rice should be al dente now. You may cover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes and by then most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Remove from heat and keep lid on. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow a bit of cooling and setting.

Now you are ready to put your dish together. Get a dinner plate and center your mold. Using a spoon with holes in it, begin to fill the mold to the top. Pat it down so as to squeeze remaining liquid out through the bottom of the mold. Fill the mold a little more and repeat. Your mold should now be well packed. Holding the mold in place, pick up the plate and swirl it around until the liquid has covered the bottom of the dish. Once satisfied, go ahead and slowly lift the mold. Now take your zucchini slices and cover the sides until it goes all the way around. You have made your first serving. It should take only about 2 minutes or less for each plate. Add a sprig of parsley on top for garni.

This should serve 6 people. Serve with some nice crusty bread and a glass of burgundy. This dish can be served as an appetiser or an entree. If an entree, serve with a couple of skewers of broiled lamb or chicken on the side. This dish will cost you a whole $1.13 per serving! Enjoy. (photos by Dominique Roche)

Mold In Your Kitchen?? Sacre Bleu !!!!

I believe every kitchen should have some molds - NO, not that kind. I'm talking about the ones pictured to the right. Not everybody has $15 or $20 to throw around however (these were given to me).

There is a simple and inexpensive way of having some molds, in fact it's free. Use your empty cans that you normally discard! Just use a can opener and open both sides of your can and voila, you have a mold. I suggest using those can openers that leave a smooth edge on the can. Wash your can (you know what I'm talking about) thoroughly and the next time you need a mold you'll have one. Since canned foods come in different width sizes, do several of them. Tuna fish cans work wonderful; however, make sure that it's the kind of can that you'll be able to open on both sides. You can also use various shapes for variety, i.e. sardine cans that are oblong make wonderful molds for spreads like salmon mouse. Even cream cheese can be molded into that shape for a very nice center piece. As an added touch of class, take some lox and wrap it around the sides of your molded cream cheese. The kitchen is so friendly, you just have to get to know it, it offers you so much. Bon appetite! (photo by Dominique Roche)

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I spend a lot of time, well I mean on my spare time, thumbing through food magazines and I must admit, I get a lot of good ideas of what to make or plan for. I will usually add my own touch to dishes that I see pictured. One thing that I love to do is to look at a picture of a dish that was prepared and deconstruct it if you will and by doing so can replicate it without even having seen a recipe. It's a lot easier than you would think and a great way to learn to cook wonderful meals.

Deconstruction is simply the process looking at a picture and start removing each layer and determining what that layer is and how it was prepared. By the time you get to the bottom layer (basically the first thing that was put on the plate), you will know exactly how that dish was made and be able to duplicate it in your own kitchen, you know, that scary scary room in the house. Ok, let's try it.

Take a look at the picture in the upper right of this article, blow it up if you want, so that you can get a better close up look at it. Isn't it beautiful to look at? It's almost like a piece of art and looks a lot like what one mind find on the lunch menu of a fancy schmancy restaurant for $15.00. But guess what? We are going to deconstruct this and when finished, will find that this lovely dish will only cost about $2.50 per serving! Remember this, when deconstructing, if you don't know exactly what an ingredient is, ask yourself what it LOOKS like and chances are you'll be close.

What is the last thing that was put on that plate? It was probably the dark brown looking liquid used as garni around the edge of the dish. It could be one of two things, soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. It looks a bit too thick to be soy sauce so we've determined it's balsamic vinegar. There's your first ingredient. We can clearly see that the top layer is tomato and a small sprig of what looks like frizzy lettuce between the two tomato wedges. Below that looks like a couple of baby butter lettuce leaves. So far so good. Although we don't notice what is underneath the lettuce, we can assume it's the same thing that can be seen peeking out the sides. Here we have a variety of goodies. I see thin slices of peach, green and red peppers, and a few more tomato wedges. If you look closely at the picture just north of the lettuce you will notice something that doesn't look like peaches. It's lighter in color and appears to have peel still attached. We can assume these are thin slices of baby new potatoes and they have probably been lightly sauteed, so far the only thing cooked.

OK, so that leaves us with the final layer, the main ingredient. Taking a very close look at it, we can see that it was lightly breaded and pan fried. You will also notice that it has been butterflied. Butterflied means that a piece of meat was sliced open to reveal two identical pieces but not sliced all the way through, so both are still connected. Besides beef, pork, and lamb, chicken breasts can be butterflied very nicely. In this picture we can clearly see that it's got to be chicken breast. They took a half chicken breast, sliced it down the middle and opened it up. It also appears that it was probably pounded with a kitchen mallet to flatten it so that it would pan fry quickly without getting too dark to burn the breading.

You have just deconstructed a lunch entree simply by observing a photograph! Now that you have all the ingredients listed, you can replicate the dish and impress your friends and family. Be very careful not to overdo any single ingredient. A little goes a long way. For instance, from this picture, it appears that 1/2 tomato, a few slices of red and green pepper, a few slices of potato, and a few thin slices of peach and 6 oz. of chicken breast were used. I would say in this case, a whole fruit would serve a party of 4 easily. Don't be afraid to try this the next time it's your turn to prepare lunch or dinner. As a side item, I would recommend breaking a nice fresh and crispy French baguette and corking a nice semi chilled bottle of white burgundy wine and you'll have yourself a wonderful feast. Our deconstruction was simple and so was the reconstruction. Enjoy! (photo provided by

Just Maybe The Perfect Food...

From time to time, I will feature a food item and detail its nutritional value and perhaps teach you something that you might not know about it. I might also throw in a simple little recipe for you to try out. Today I talk about the banana.

The banana is said to have originated in S.E. Asia in the areas of Indochina, the Malaysian peninsula, and as far south as Australia. It was first introduced to Europe in the 10th century, and later in the New World during the 16th century. It is the 4th largest fruit crop in the world with Latin America accounting for more than 65% of the production. They are usually picked green and ripened in storage rooms that have nearly 100% humidity. Compared to the natural ripening process, storage ripened bananas, the type we receive in the U.S., lack the full flavor that their cousins on the tree have. What modern techniques have been used to preserve the fruit has further diluted that "banana" flavor... and progress moves on.

Bananas, it has been said, may just be the perfect food. There are many nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, iron, riboflavin, niacin, B-carotene, and the list goes on. It is said to be very good for your heart. Even the peel has medicinal value. Did you know that banana peel can be used to heal a wound faster and can help get rid of warts? There are actual antibiotic and anti fungal properties in the peeling. In fact, the entire banana and its parts has medicinal values from the treatment of dysentery, bronchitis, diabetes, to epilepsy, leprosy, hysteria, hemorrhoids, and malignant ulcers. There are many more medicinal uses not mentioned here. Hindus consider the banana a symbol of fertility and I'll leave that one alone.

Here's a very simple dessert that is very tasty and will wow your dinner guests. Take 2 large firm bananas, cut them in half and then slice each half lengthwise. Crack two eggs and use the yolks and put the whites in the fridge for another day. Add a couple of tablespoons of cream to the yolks and beat until well mixed. Then add a tablespoon of brandy and mix well. Pour some Japanese bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Japanese bread crumbs are lighter than regular bread crumbs and can now be found in most major supermarkets. In a third bowl, pour some flour.

Get a 10 inch frying or saute pan and spray the bottom with Pam and melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. While butter is melting, coat each of the banana slices with the flour, then in the egg , and finally roll it into the bread crumbs so that the bread crumbs completely cover the bananas. When the butter is well melted and beginning to foam, carefully place each of the banana slices in and saute about 2 minutes per side or until bread crumbs have a nice golden color. Remove and set aside in a serving platter. Reduce heat to medium and add a quarter cup of brandy and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Be careful not to stand over the pan while doing this just in case the brandy flames. The brandy does not need to be flambeed, it will evaporate its alcohol naturally. Stir until brown sugar is nicely dissolved and add 1 small scoop of ice cream and stir until ice cream is melted but not boiling. Pour mixture over bananas and serve . I know, the butter is fattening. Well, this one time, get over it and just enjoy! If you want, you can serve with a scoop of ice cream over the bananas. (banana provided by

Where Are You, Seafood Lovers?

This is a question that has pondered me for a long time. Whenever I plan dinner parties, I always think about a nice seafood venue; however, there always seems to be one or more guests that are not fond of the jewels of the sea. Alas, I end up nixing that idea most of the time.

I love seafood. Whether it be shell fish, crustaceans, or any of the fishes of the sea, if you put seafood on your menu, I will be there for dinner. Wait, I said that too fast. Anything from the sea or rivers that resembles a snake, throw it back in, I hate eel. The weird thing is that when I was a wee wee young lad in boarding school in France, I loved eel. I was staying at an eel farm and we frequently would have sauteed eel at the dinner table. How the palate changes over the years. I absolutely hate sea urchin as well, for no reason except that a friend of mine ordered it when on an overseas trip. If memory serves me right, it was sea urchin omelet. It looked awful and my friend ate the whole thing! Other than those two things, the oceans and rivers hold the jewels of my taste buds.

The complaints I hear from those that tell me they aren't seafood lovers is that it's "rubbery", "dry", or "bland". My friends, it's all in the cooking. There is simply one rule and one rule only when cooking seafood, don't overcook, period. I have a simple rule (sticking with our theme) and that is when you are cooking fish, cook it as long as you would a steak done rare, about 2 minutes on each side. Of course, the thickness of the fish plays a role. The two minute rule is great for about 1 inch thickness. It's that simple. If it's shell fish, cook covered for 4 minutes, check. If shells are all open, it's ready. If not, cook for 2 more minutes covered. I tell you, all your shells will be opened and the meat will be succulent and moist. All I can say is the longer you cook seafood the better it will be as new soles for your shoes. It's your choice.

I recently have experimented with my microwave oven and fish. Now I know the first thing you're going to say is that's a whole lot of rubber. But wait, hear me out on this one. You can make the most wonderful poached salmon or halibut with your microwave. Start with a piece of halibut or salmon about 3/4" to 1" thick and a microwave dish that has a lid. You can use a plate to cover the dish if you want. Spray the bottom of the dish with Pam (I love her, she's so slippery and everything slides off her). Place your fish in the dish and add a teaspoon of olive oil or butter, salt, pepper, dill or basil (if you have some), and 1/4 cut of water or white wine. You can also add minced parsley and garlic and a squeeze of lemon, if you wish. Cover the dish well and microwave on level 8 for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Keep dish covered for another 60 seconds, then remove and place on your dinner plate. Take the liquid you have and add about 2 tablespoons of cream, mix well, add a teaspoon of tartar sauce, dilute into liquid. Cover and microwave for about 45 seconds on level 8. Remove from microwave and pour over your fish. Sprinkle a bit more parsley or basil, a slice of tomato, a few capers, and enjoy with steamed french haricots (petite green beans). Bon appetite! (photos provided by

...Paella coming soon !

I have had a number of requests for the article that will feature my paella. I just wanted all of you to know that it's in the works. As in keeping with the theme of this blog, I am working on explaining how to make it with simplicity. I will soon have this article ready, so be patient and keep checking back. :)

Need To Do It Quickly? Cheat...

Please realize that I love making sauces and usually make them from scratch starting with flour and butter and then adding my liquid. Sometimes however, I'll just deglaze my pan with red or white wine or chicken stock and then add a packet of Knorr brown or white sauce, let it cook on med to med low heat and once mixed and dissolved well, I'll slowly add my liquid until I get a consistency that I want, then just set it on low for about 7 minutes. I usually won't need to season it much at all doing it that way. Let's face it, those packets are mostly made up of flour anyway along with some spices and seasonings. The nice thing about them is there's no second guessing with the liquid. Very simple and just a little short cut from me.

Oh God Bless My Mom !

From time to time, I would like to share stories involving my mom. I tell you, whenever there's something involving her, it's always with a bit of comic relief.

Now, I want to remind you that my mom was and is very good in the kitchen. For the record, she makes a good apple pie - except for one day earlier this year, or was it last year? We try to forget that day, save for the fact that during get together and parties, this story always comes to the surface like a bad case of reflux disease; however, it's always good for a laugh.

I don't know how it happened that one day mom decided to change the size of her units of measurement, but if it's going to happen, it will happen to her. She was having company for dinner that evening, so she decided to make her apple pie for dessert. By dinner time, one could smell the wonderful aromas of foods that were about to be eaten and the wonderful smells of cinnamon rolling out of the kitchen, the wonderful strong smells of cinnamon. Dinner was delightful and tasty. Soon after, it was time for dessert and out came the apple pie. It looked very nice until we cut into it and presented the first piece to her guests. One didn't know if it was suppose to be an apple pie or cinnamon pie. When asked how much cinnamon she put in, she calmly explained that it called for 2 cups of cinnamon. Oh my god, this pie was dead on arrival! It was so solid and hard and everything was sort of glued together like tar clumps. The taste, well just go to your pantry and grab yourself a nice teaspoon of cinnamon and stick that in your mouth. Mm mm, doesn't that taste good? Do they even make cinnamon containers that big? Apparently, mom had misread the cinnamon requirements and she should have read 2 tablespoons. Seriously, she does make a nice apple pie on a normal day. Oh god bless her. There's more to come, but that's for another day and another story. (apple photo from

I have to tell you a funny story....

There is an array of dishes that are made in the US and are unheard of in France. I am setting the stage now, so listen carefully to what I am about to tell you and never never do this at home!

We arrived in the United States in early 1959 and moved in with my step father's parents who lived in Eugene. My step father was finishing up his education, so living with in laws was a way of cutting down on the budget. My mom soon began to prepare these wonderful dishes to the delight of Mammy and Poppy (grandparents) - except when it came to dessert. Dessert time always brought surprises and usually not of the happy kind, I might add.

One day (and there will be many more stories like this to tell), mom saw a pumpkin pie on TV. This type of pie is not known in the world of Parisians, but mom thought she knew how to make it and figured it was easy. So, she proceeded to prepare the crust and then took the fresh pumpkin, cut it in half, took the seeds and rind out, did a little peeling, and cut the pumpkin in one inch chunks. She then put it in the pie tin with the crust, added plenty of brown sugar, and threw it in the oven to bake.

Along comes dinner and yummy as usual. Then the dreaded words from my mom, "Me make dessert. I make surprise tonight", to which my grandfather quickly replied, "Ginette, please, no more surprises, no more"! Out of the kitchen she came, proud as she always was, with her surprise in hand. When she explained that she had made a pumpkin pie, everyone looked at one another; in a whisper that was barely audible, you could hear, "oh god".

This pie was awful! One bite and my grandfather chipped a tooth, as I recall. Mammy was a real trooper however, took several bites, and proceeded to mention that it wasn't all that bad. What was she on? I tell you, it was awful. Later in the week, mom's best friend came by and when she heard how mom made that pie, she burst into laughter and taught her how it really should be made. There will be more surprises to tell!