Sunday, March 15, 2015

reunited and it feels so good.....

Out of the blue an old friend emailed me asking me if I still cater. Reluctantly I said yes because we had just moved two days before he emailed me and our kitchen was about to undergo renovation- I know, not good timing. This is our 8th- EIGHTH MOVE and so many special things especially kitchen stuff have been accumulated therefore, I can't 'let go'.
So we planned the party through emails.
When I delivered my goods to my friend and his new wife, it felt so good to see him. It really did. It melted my heart. He reminds me of my own wonderful husband.
I don't need to digress, the party was planned around a son who appearing in a stage show called Shrek. Friends and family came over after the last performance.
I gave a simple menu  but so good-and here it is:

Cranberry, Cilantro  CreamCheese Dip
Bacon apple Tart

The beef tenderloin bruschetta
Baked Spaghetti 
My Favorite Salad 

Bongo Mongo Torte with Ginger Snaps
Salted Caramel Strawberries
Apple Pie Crescents

I want to be like Mom - Lent

For many years growing up I wanted to be just like Mom. Stylish, industrious compassionate, generous and always had the right thing to say at the right time. I know relatives would say to me, even today, you were never/could never be like Mom. Maybe not, but I still miss her very much and I wish I could have been more like her. So, last Friday, I made a retro Tuna Casserole ( it's Lent). Mom used to make one of two Friday night specials: either a spaghetti with her homemade sauce ( and I always had chapped lips and had a hard time enjoying it) or she would make a baked potato, creamed corn and tuna out of the can- this was for when she and Dad had a downtown commitment.
I think I'm compassionate and industrious. But the other? Stylish?? I have several sweaters, skirts, many Ferragamo shoes, and one or 3 evening dresses. I am so comfortable in T necks and sweaters and NOT heeled shoes. I wish I could. I miss her style.

Tuna Casserole
Serves 4
  • 5 1/2tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1cup diced portobello mushrooms
  • 1small yellow onion, diced
  • 1shallot, diced
  • 1celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1tablespoon minced chives
  • 1/4cup dry sherry
  • 1/4cup flour
  • 1cup milk (whole)
  • 1/2cup chicken stock
  • 1teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2cans oil packed tuna, drained
  • 8ounces egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2cup panko
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 Tbs. of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off all of their liquid and cooked through (10 or so minutes). Season lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add another 1/2 a tablespoon of butter to the frying pan, then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped herbs and the sherry and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into this mixture, then set this aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened (another minute or two). Then add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Flake the tuna and combine the tuna, the white sauce, the mushroom-onion mixture, and the noodles all together. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and transfer the casserole mixture into it.
  5. In a small pan, melt the last tablespoon of butter. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve! (And if you are in a church basement, you might have to throw together a reduxed jello salad as well!)

Homemade Ranch Dressing

I always prefer to make my own dressings-they taste less sugary they have a richer flavor. Well, while I've done my own ranch dressing, I don't have a great photo- and here, I found one!
And for the recipe:

    • 2tablespoons minced shallot
    • 2tablespoons chopped basil
    • 2tablespoons chopped chives
    • 1tablespoon chopped parsley
    • 1small clove garlic, minced
    • 2teaspoons teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
    • 1/2cup mayonnaise
    • 2tablespoons yogurt or sour cream
    • 1cup well-shaken buttermilk
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
    • Honey, as needed
    1. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the shallot, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice, mayonnaise, and yogurt or sour cream. Screw on the the lid and shake the jar to combine. Stir in most of the buttermilk. Check for consistency, and add more if needed. Taste, then season with salt, pepper and paprika. If the dressing is too sharp, drizzle in some honey to mellow the acidity. Taste again, and adjust if needed. 
    2. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before using, to allow the flavours to blend and develop.

    How to peel an orange

    I tried this and it takes some practice to make it as perfect as it looks in the picture. But if you have the time, why not!?
    I found this on
    This technique works best with mandarin oranges, but just for good measure I tried it out on a Valencia orange as well. Simply lop off the ends, make a small incision in the side and carefully open to reveal easy-to-eat orange segments. (Or as I prefer to call it, an orange caterpillar.)