It seems like I’m hearing a lot about Lisbon lately. And why not? It’s one of the world’s oldest cities. It’s beautiful and for a big pile of money you can live in a Portuguese quinta like this one. It’s inside the UNESCO protected Arrabida National Park but still right next to the city. There’s a lake, orchard, greenhouse, tennis court, pool and stables. Now if I could only get someone to give me about $7 million dollars…
I don’t know if you caught last night’s Antiques Roadshow (which I’m very much addicted to) but they had a segment on steel jewelry that blew me away. They featured two types of jewelry; cut steel and Berlin Iron. Cut steel jewelry is made of tiny faceted pieces of steel that are affixed to a base plate and were highly popular as a substitute for diamonds in the 18th century. When worn at night they shimmer as diamonds would. Berlin Iron, however, is cast iron jewelry that originated in Berlin in about 1804. During the Prussian war with Napoleon citizens were encouraged to donate their gold and silver to the cause and were given these iron jewels as replacements. They later caught on elsewhere as mourning jewelry as they are naturally black. I can’t decide which style I like better, but here are some beautiful examples of both styles.
As a kid in Louisiana, I liked Mardi Gras, but I don’t think I had a full appreciation of what a crazy time of year it really is. And how could I? I mean, I looked forward to catching beads as much as any other 7 year old, but really the best part for me was going to parties and eating great food. Now that I live in the Northwest, Fat Tuesday isn’t much celebrated at all, although I still look forward to making some great food for friends and family. If you’re thinking of gathering some friends for a Mardi Gras dinner, then I’ve got some menu ideas for you. Some easy, some a bit more complicated. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!
Gumbo for a Group
I’ve been making this gumbo recipe since high school, which was longer ago than I’d like to admit. It’s based on a recipe from River Road Recipes II and it’s served me well. I like it because you can vary it so easily by substituting crab for shrimp, or tossing in some oysters or using chorizo if you can’t find andouille. Any which way, it’s delicious. It will take a big chunk of time out of your day, but it’s well worth it.
Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo (serves 8-10)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 16oz can diced tomatoes
- 1.5 pounds frozen or fresh okra
- oil for frying okra
- 2 quarts hot water
- 3.5 Tbsp. salt
- .75 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 large bay leaf
- .25 tsp dried thyme
- 8 allspice berries
- 1 pound andouille sausage. sliced and cooked in separate pan to remove some fat
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
- 1.5 pounds peeled/deveined shrimp
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Make a dark roux in a large heavy pot. (heat oil then add flour. Stir over low heat until roux darkens. You’re looking for a dark caramel color. Careful not to burn it or you’ll have to start again. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour)
Add onions and garlic, cook until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes and cook on low heat until oil rises to top (about 30 minutes) stirring frequently.
In a separate skillet fry okra in oil on moderately high heat, stirring constantly until okra is no longer stringy. Add okra to other mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Add water, salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Add other seasonings, sausage and chicken and simmer about 20 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Add shrimp and simmer until cooked. Check seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove from heat and stir in green onions and parsley. Serve over white rice.
Green Salad (any style you like)
Jambalaya Family Dinner
Sazerac Cocktail Makes One:
- 1 cube sugar
- 1½ ounces (35ml) Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- ¼ ounce Herbsaint or Absinthe
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- Lemon peel
- Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice
- In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube
- Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar
- Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint
- Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel
Simple Weeknight Mardi Gras Dinner
Wine Pairing: Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Muffaletta Sandwiches (do not use focaccia as this recipe states. A french bread style roll will be better)
Overnight Layered Salad
- One head iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 4 celery ribs, chopped
- one bunch green onions, chopped
- one bag (10oz) frozen peas, dethawed and drained
- two green bell peppers chopped
- one sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla) chopped
- 8 slices bacon cooked and broken into pieces
- 1.5 cup sour cream
- 1.5 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
This flat is located in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city. While the odds of me ever living in Sweden are unfortunately slim, there are lots of great design elements to take away from this apartment. And if anyone knows where to find one of those gorgeous tile fireplaces, email me immediately.
My husband and I are not big Valentine’s celebrators. Our 8 year old daughter, of course, loves the holiday. It could be due to the fact that her preschool referred to it as “Love Day”, but she’s yet to grasp onto the romantic aspect of it and thinks of it more as a day to celebrate all the people you love, which I think is a much better way to do it. Every year I do like to make a more special dinner than what we’d have on a normal weeknight but not something that takes me all day to prepare. It is a school night after all. Here’s a couple of menu options (and links to recipes) for those of you celebrating with kids this year. Or for couples who just have to, you know, work Wednesday morning.
Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chile, Mint (omit chiles or use preserved lemons and Italian parsley to mix it up)
Haricot Vert with Garlic – a simple quick sautee of haricot vert or green beans with sliced garlic, salt and pepper
Wine Pairing: Scharffenberger Brut Rose
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries – buy them if you don’t have time to dip your own
Can-Can Martini (makes two)
4 oz. Gin (I like Hendricks or Plymouth)
1 oz. St. Germain Liquer
1/2 oz. dry Vermouth (Dolin is nice here, dry white wine can substitute)
Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
Just toss them in olive oil with some pepper and salt and whole cloves of garlic. Roast at 400 degrees till done or cheat and buy a bag of the Alexia roasted reds
Wine Pairing: Chateau St. Georges St Emillion or Nelm’s Road Cabernet Sauvignon (for a more budget friendly and local option)
Chocolate Fallen Souffle Cake – this can be made a day ahead, or bake while you eat
French Vegetarian Dinner
Classic Cheese Souffle – it’s not hard, I promise!
Wine Pairing: Grower Champagne such as A. Margaine Brut
Artisanal Chocolates for dessert. My favorites come from Alma in Portland.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The East coast of the United States is full of places touting that George Washington once slept there. It seems to me that what Mr. Washington is to this country, Ernest Hemingway is to bars in other countries. It seems that any place Papa stopped in for a beer now has a bronze bust of him at the bar. And being the prolific drunk that he was, that translates to a lot of bronze. Of course, there were some bars that he spent real time in, even writing some of his books in, and fortunately (or maybe unfortunately if you’re a local) many of those bars are still around for English majors and other lit geeks to visit. I suggest any and all of the following next time you need some sinspiration.
“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend…
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I used to own a pie/wine/specialty foods shop in Portland, Oregon and one thing that I sold a lot of was Laura Santtini’s Umami Taste #5 Paste. It looks like a silver tube of toothpaste but inside is delicious umami-ness that I often use to pull together sauces, braises and stews. It’s also good on bread with tomatoes. The only downside was that many of my customers were vegetarians and the paste contains anchovies. This is a problem no more as she has teamed up with chef Nobu Matsuhisa and created a new, all vegetarian paste called the Umami #5 Far Eastern Vegetarian Paste. This one is heavily based on miso with shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, green tea, ginger and little hits of yuzu. If that weren’t enough fun, there’s also a dry form of the original paste coming out called Umami Dust. Currently, they are both expected to be sold at Williams Sonomas in the Spring, and hopefully you’ll be able to find them a good local specialty foods store too.