Eggless Egg Salad

Eggless Egg Salad
I have been on a cholesterol-lowering regimen for over 5 months now. My total cholesterol has gone from 280 on July 29th to 209 on December 17th. It is definitely a lifestyle change, one that I will continue forever. And I’m fortunate my cholesterol can be controlled through diet and exercise.
Friends and family ask, “how’s it going?” To be honest, it’s kinda fun. I just choose to eat the foods higher in fiber, lower in cholesterol, ones that include the heart healthy oils. One of the best parts of cooking is the creativity, and this heart healthy cooking is no exception. Occasionally I eat my old favorites (like gorgonzola with truffle honey), just less frequently and in smaller portions. In fact, we will be having a Porchetta Party here next weekend! So I’ll be enjoying (a smaller portion of) that luscious crispy pork too, but I’ll probably have oatmeal for breakfast. And I’ll skip the leftovers.
Here’s a recipe I came up with after trying the eggless egg salad from Trader Joe’s. Theirs is pretty good, but doesn’t compare with good ol’ homemade.

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Elegant Leek & Celeriac Soup

Leek & Celeriac Soup
Toasted Sesame Oil & Black Sesame Seed Garnish
Ciabatta Toast with Smoked Gouda

We recently had one last Holiday Party…
Menu
Pork Potstickers, Apricot Dipping Sauce
Elegant Leek & Celeriac Soup, Smoked Gouda Ciabatta Toast
Pork Roast Roulade
Stuffed with Sausage, Pistachio & Chestnut
Cider Gravy
Wild Arugula Salad with Pistachios, Sherry Vinaigrette
Chocolate Pineapple Soup, Pound Cake Crouton
Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (Thanks Adam!)

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue – the National Dish of Switzerland

So… we were snowbound in New Jersey (not Switzerland) on a cold blustery winter night. But we were not lacking provisions. Susan held her fabulous annual Holiday Party the night before, and there were leftovers galore, including lots of fine cheeses and French bread…and it turned out she had a fondue set in the pantry just waiting to be broken in.
Fondue – it’s easy, social, delicious, cheesy, fun, unique, and oh so 60’s. We went online to find a fondue recipe, the one by Tyler Florence sounded good, but alas, we did not have all the ingredients. So we improvised, and it turned out great! Don’t be afraid of fondue…melt cheese in wine, eat with bread. Instant party success.

Our recipe:

  • 1 pound of mixed cheeses including Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 c. dry white wine, we used our favorite, Grüner Veltliner
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. Rémy Martin (Cognac)
  • 1 T. Grand Marnier (Orange-flavored Liqueur)
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • nutmeg
Grate the cheeses and toss with flour, set aside. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove. Then add wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Gradually stir in the cheese, adding more as the cheese in the pot melts. Traditionally Kirsch, a cherry brandy, is added at this point. We used what we had on hand, Rémy Martin and Grand Marnier. We also added a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a pinch of ground nutmeg. I think it is important to use fine cheeses and high-quality wine for a superior result.
Serve with cubes of French bread and blanched vegetables. Have your guests swirl the bread cubes in a figure-eight motion. Mixing of the cheese by the guests keeps it from separating. And if the fondue starts to clump, just whisk in a tablespoon of lemon juice to smooth it out.
We hope you had a wonderful warm cozy holiday celebration
with your family and friends and pets.

Did you get a Snuggie for Christmas?

Unique Almond Pizza

Unique Almond Pizza
Sliced Blanched Raw Almonds, Mozzarella,
Shaved Garlic, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

I buy pizza dough and shredded mozzarella at my local Italian Market, the A-1 Deli.
Roll out the dough and arrange on a pizza screen. Top generously with shredded mozzarella and shaved garlic. Drizzle olive oil on top. Scatter sliced blanched raw almonds about and finish with course sea salt. Bake at 450° until golden.

This pizza is great with a green salad for lunch, or cut into small slices and served as an appetizer at a party.
foodbuzz

And thanks to the folks at Foodbuzz for choosing Unique Almond Pizza as one of the Top 9 photos last week! Please give this unique pizza a try, you won’t be disappointed!
HELP WANTED

My nephew Stone was setting up a “restaurant” in my kitchen. He put out his “Help Wanted” sign and I applied for the job. After I was hired, he crossed out Help Wanted, applications were no longer being accepted.
That is Jett in the left of the photo, he calls himself the “King of Liberty.” The King is an excellent waiter.

The “restaurant” served Cheese Pizza for the kids and Maple Barbecue Smoked Chicken Pizza for the adults.
The pizza screen is such a handy tool. It makes it much easier to spread out the dough, and get the pizza into and out of the oven. The perforated surface allows moisture to escape during baking, resulting in a nice crispy evenly-baked crust.

Those of us who were fortunate to attend the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco received a goodie bag including products from a company called Made in Napa Valley, of which one was this tasty Maple Barbecue Sauce with Horseradish.
Maple Barbecue Smoked Chicken Pizza

Spread a mixture of half pizza sauce and half the barbecue sauce over the pizza dough, top with shredded mozzarella and shredded smoked chicken. If you shop at Whole Foods Market definitely try their fabulous whole smoked whole chicken from the smokehouse.
The restaurant was a huge success, food and service were exceptional. Three Stars. Congratulations Stone & Jett!

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Miso Butter

Organic Rainbow Carrots
Roasted with Toasted Sesame Oil
Splash of Tamari
Miso Butter with Ginger and Garlic
Sesame Seed Garnish

Who could pass up these beauties at the market?

Looking for a holiday side dish? Something colorful, tasty, not too complicated, unique, not too rich, that complements a variety of foods? Try roasted rainbow carrots with miso butter!
Preheat oven to 350°. Peel the carrots. Toss lightly with toasted sesame oil. Roast on a sheet pan or oven-proof dish in a single layer. (I found it is best to roast the purple carrots in a separate pan to keep the color from bleeding onto the other carrots).

Miso butter:

  • 1 stick softened butter (I used Challenge Butter)
  • 2 – 3 T. white miso (depending on saltiness)
  • 1 1/2 t. garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 t. fresh ginger minced
Mix all ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor. You can make the miso butter ahead of time and keep it on hand. It is great on vegetables, fish, noodles, and oh, please try it on a grilled rib-eye steak!

Melt some of your miso butter in a saucepan.

When the carrots are al dente, after about 25 minutes or so, remove from oven, add a splash of low-sodium tamari. Arrange on a platter. Then drizzle with melted miso butter, and finish with a black and white sesame seed garnish. This side dish has the lovely depth of umami flavor yet is not too heavy.
A Chance To Win

Last month, the folks at Challenge Butter sent me an email: “We are running a sweepstakes for a chance to win a 7-day/6-night vacation to the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana. It’s sure to brighten some spirits!” The sweepstakes runs through December 31st.
I purchase Challenge butter all the time. Happy to endorse their excellent product. 

Bonne chance mon ami!

White Asparagus, Shaved Avocado, Tarragon Mayonnaise

Peruvian White Asparagus
Shaved Californian Avocado
Tarragon Mayonnaise
I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today for meat to make a very Autumn-Style dish for a big party this weekend: Stout Braised Short Ribs, a two-day process which we will be starting tomorrow morning.
Walking into the produce section, I noticed this big display of asparagus, the quintessential Spring vegetable, right? Turns out this asparagus was from Peru. Where Spring has sprung! In solidarity with my Southern Hemisphere Cooking Compadres, I picked up some asparagus to serve along side a Whole Foods pre-cooked smoked chicken tonight. Their smoked chicken is really good.
White Asparagus

Trim off the end of the asparagus, then shave the entire stalk with a vegetable peeler.

Place shaved asparagus stalks in salted simmering water with a bay leaf. Cook until tender, taste for doneness. This was about 8 minutes. When tender, place asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then dry on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise with finely chopped fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, and a splash of tarragon vinegar. Tonight’s dinner had to be effortless, considering the upcoming party and all the cooking involved. But…
Mayonnaise aficionados might appreciate an “almost effortless” homemade version, compliments of Julia Child, that I paired with fresh swordfish here.

“Mayonnaise is one of the finest and most important sauces in classic cuisine. The shame is that few of us ever taste the kind of fresh handmade mayonnaise that deserves such culinary status – and even dedicated home cooks don’t realize that making their own is a simple process that takes only minutes and, if you use a food processor, almost no effort at all.” Julia Child

Shave a slightly under-ripe avocado into strips with the vegetable peeler. Season asparagus with salt and pepper, ladle tarragon mayonnaise over the center, top with shaved avocado ribbons. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. This side dish was really simple and quite lovely.
Happy Spring to My Blogger Friends in the Southern Hemisphere!


For more information on Peruvian White Asparagus, please visit Gourmet Trading Company here.

Etorki – Cheese of the Month

shaved etorki cheese
grilled sunburst and pattypan squash
wild baby arugula
toasted tamari almonds
 roasted almond oil & late harvest riesling vinaigrette
First brush sunburst and pattypan squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper then grill.

Cline Cellars Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar

La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil
Vinaigrette: Steep minced shallot in late harvest riesling vinegar, then season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and whisk in La Tourangelle roasted almond oil in a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. The riesling vinegar and this almond oil are a match made in heaven; delightfully sweet, bright, nutty, toasty. Very elegant.


Plate wild baby arugula with warm grilled squash and toasted tamari almonds. Then spoon vinaigrette over. Top with shaved Etorki cheese.

Etorki is a sheep’s milk cheese produced in the French Basque Country. Etorki has a smooth, velvety texture and rich, hazelnut (almost burnt caramel-like) flavor. Its aroma is sweet and buttery, and the cheese is voluptuous on the tongue. Because of its supple texture, you can bend it a bit without breaking so it is great for shaving with a vegetable peeler.

Etorki, which means “origin” in Basque, is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese that has been produced in the heart of the Basque region of southwestern France for over 4000 years. 
The cheese is made from local sheep’s milk in Mauléon, in the Atlantic Pyrenees. More specifically, Etorki is made from the milk of black- or red-faced Manech ewes. The ewes’ milk is exceptional, but there is only a scant supply; it takes 22 ewes to provide the same amount of milk obtained by the milking of a single cow. 
The scarcity of ewes’ milk and the limited milking season – December to July – offer a partial explanation for the higher price of cheese made from sheep’s milk in comparison to that made from cow’s milk. And Etorki is composed of over 98% ewes’ milk. For more on delicious Etorki, please visit the Ile de France website here.
My Cousin Vicki’s Wedding 
October 2008

What does Vicki & Jonah’s Wine Country Wedding at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, California last year have to do with the Cheese of the Month post?

Wedding Favors!

They chose to give an assortment of hand-crafted oils and vinegars as gifts. Great idea! Mine was the Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar. There was also Blood Orange Vinegar, Pomegranate Vinegar, and White Truffle Oil among others. Perfect wedding favors for foodies like us! Thanks V & J!

Dear Vicki & Jonah:
 Congratulations and blessings on your first anniversary!
Best wishes for many many more happy years together.
Love, Cousin Lori Lynn