December 27, 2007

"Eat My Mommy!"

When Molly was a little squirt, she called edamame, "eat my mommy". Adorable and charming mispronunication, but sometimes I wondered....? I mean she's cute and all, but once she kept ants in a little wrist purse on her tiny little arm and when they would eventually die, she would just leave them in there. Quite the collection.

Anyway, I just read a wonderful recipe in Sunset, submitted by an equally wonderful cook, Roxanne Chan. She is not only a prolific and amazing cook, she is most gracious. There couldn't be a better representation of someone doing what they love with talent and style but also with quiet and humble dignity. I admire what she has done very much. And I LOVE this recipe! She was, of course, gracious enough to let me post this, so thank you Roxanne!

Roxanne Chan's Edamame Salad

Serves 8

Prep time: 20 minutes

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce

1 lb. shelled edamame, cooked and cooled

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup sliced almonds

In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and chili sauce. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine edamame, green onions, mint, and almonds. Toss with the dressing to coat.

Serve, and "eat your mommy"!

When I Die....

Great idea for a book, don't you think? I'm such a drama queen/fatalist, that this is right up my alley! Alas, it is back-ordered at Amazon, but perhaps you'll find it elsewhere. Here is a review from a favorite cookbook site...Cook's Library.

"Have you ever wondered what Mario Batali’s last meal might be? How about what CD Gordon Ramsay would be listening to as the clock ticked?Photographer Melanie Dunea ask 50 of the world’s famous chefs what their final meals would be. My Last Supper showcases their fascinating answers alongside stunning Vanity Fair–style portraits. Their responses are surprising, refreshing, and as distinct from each other as the chefs themselves. The portraits, gorgeous, and playful, are informed by their answers and reveal the passions and personalities of the most respected names in the business.Featuring: Ferrán Adrià, José Andrés, Dan Barber, Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Scott Conant, Suzanne Goin, Thomas Keller, Giorgio Locatelli, Nobu, Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pepin, Michel Richard, Eric Ripert, and more…One recipe from each landmark meal is included in the back of the book."

So. I don't know yet what my last meal would be. But I would like it to be in the company of everyone profiled in this book. Now, THAT'S a last supper!!!! It wouldn't matter what my last meal would would all be good...because I'd demand all these chefs bring me their food! A pity pot-luck for a dying woman!!! I'd just lanquish away on the couch, eating every wonderful thing they'd whip up for me. Anthony Bourdain would regale me with stories of the underbelly of restaurant cooking, Eric Ripert would, well, just sit there and let me gaze upon him, and Thomas Keller would be soothing my fevered brow with some foie gras.

Nice way to go, don't you think???

December 26, 2007

What a great Christmas for our family! With Mac home before he leaves for Iraq, we’ve been especially blessed this year. It’s been hectic and frankly, I’m sick of cooking, baking, cleaning the kitchen, and mostly…going to the grocery store! I’m thinking take-out tacos tonight!!! I love shopping for food, but the crowds definitely put a damper on my cruising the aisles, day-dreaming about a new recipe! It’s more like I went into survival mode! Milk, butter, eggs, get out!!!! Yikes!!!! But today brings a certain peace (just laundry!), and Mac is still here, so it’s all good! We had a raucous good time yesterday with both our families. It’s poignant with my Mom descending deeper into the pain of Alzheimer’s, but with almost all of us there, it was very reassuring. Aunt Nancy did a fantastic job of herding all us cats, and feeding us a wonderful meal. The Wilkinson clan get together was, as usual, loud, crowded, and merry, lots and lots of food….and Bubba running around in his Santa boxers. Nice! And Uncle Richards home-made tamales! It almost makes up for Bubba’s boxers!

But the best part of Christmas was making a special dinner for Kurt and the our “kids” on Sunday night - “Garlic-Roasted Standing Prime Rib with Cognac-Mustard Sauce”. Woo! So good!!!!! We had the best time…so rare to get all of us together for one meal, it was wonderful!

I think I’m at my very best with sauces and this is one of the best. I wasn’t able to take a picture, since it disappeared so fast! Use any good Prime Rib recipe (or any good fatty roast) and this sauce comes together fast and easy.

Cognac-Mustard Sauce

8 servings

Ingredients: (just for sauce…use any good recipe for seared, then roasted roast)

1 tablespoon butter
4 medium shallots, minced
2 cups good beef stock (homemade if you can manage it!)
2 tablespoon Cognac
2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
3 tablespoons minced fresh curly leafed parsley
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper

1. After searing whatever beef you choose to use, save the skillet.
2. When meat is out of oven and “resting”, begin sauce by sauteing the shallots in 1 tablespoon butter for about 5 minutes and the searing skillet.
3. Pour off fat from roasting pan. Set pan over high heat. Stir in stock, scraping up any browned bits of meat and fat. Add to shallots in saute pan. Boil until reduced by half.
4. Add Cognac and boil 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
5. Whisk in mustard and stir in parsley. Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time.
6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
7. Spoon over slices of beef, and serve immediately.

December 20, 2007

It beats a stick in the eye!

I just received email that I am a runner-up in a seasonal contest sponsored by "In Mama's Kitchen"....I get a cool cookbook! Here is link to my recipe, but take a look at the!

I love these "little" contests. Nice people, great prizes, and little stress. Some of the "big" ones can just downright frazzle a person. The FN experience made my hair fall out. And I needed another hormone patch when I got home from Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Super Duper!

Good grief. More baking. You’d think it was Christmas or something.

But these cookies are SO worth it! Our family’s favorite Christmas cookie (well, Sarah would inhale them if she could!) and I’ve been baking them since I saw this recipe in Sunset magazine a few years ago.

The picture is dedicated to my sister (Lori, you’ll know what it means…). This is another super duper easy recipe. I do recommend you haul out the super duper Kitchen Aid mixer to give you a hand. To get the dough right, you really need to mix this sucker. Don’t freak out at how crumbly it seems…it’s almost like sweet pie dough and when you press it into balls, it works perfectly. When you bake them, they WON’T turn golden brown. They’ll look like…well, dough. The edges should be just barely turning brown. They will harden up while cooling. If you like a crispier cookie, bake a bit longer. These cookies are a lovely gift, along with a special tea cup or coffee mug…the cookies beg for warm goodness to wash them down.

Coconut-Cranberry Chews

Makes about 6 dozen cookies

1 ½ cups butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup dried cranberries
1 ½ cup sweetened flaked dried coconut

1. In a large mixing bowl, with a mixer at medium speed, beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth.
2. In another medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, at low speed, then continue beating at low speed until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. Mix in coconut and cranberries.
3. Shape dough in 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on buttered (or parchment paper…I like that better!) baking sheets.
4. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until cookie edges just BARELY turn brown, 8 – 11 minutes. If baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

December 19, 2007

Nutmeg Banana Bread

Today I made banana bread. The WORLD'S BEST BANANA BREAD! I can't take complete credit. The basic recipe is beloved by many - it's from the very first "Private Collection - Junior League of Palo Alto" published in 1980. The correct title is "Kona Inn Banana Bread"....however, as always, I monkey around with a perfectly good recipe and have named it "Nutmeg Banana Bread" with the addition of...duh...nutmeg. And it has to be freshly ground nutmeg...makes all the difference. Sometimes I add cinnamon and walnuts. Once, chocolate chips...not so good. Cranberries? Pretty good. But it's best kept simple. This is so easy to make with such rich should be illegal. It's a great gift, freezes like a dead Eskimo, and when you top if off with whipped cream and a dash of more freshly grated nutmeg...well...just try it. Banana-rama-mama!!

BTW...if you can find this terrific little cookbook, grab it! Every single recipe is very very good. My copy is so beat's fallen in dishwater, been dropped in the batter, microwaved once, and generally abused like all good cookbooks tend to be.

Nutmeg Banana Bread

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup softened butter

6 ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 cups)

4 eggs, well beaten

2 1/2 cups cake flour*

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. With electric beater, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add bananas and eggs, beating until well mixed.

3. Sift together dry ingredients three times (I don't do this...I haven't sifted anything since junior high home economics!) Blend with banana mixture but do not overmix.

4. Pour into 2 lightly buttered (I use the spray Pam with flour) loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until firm in the centers and edges begin to pull away from pans.

5. Cool on rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before wrapping and/or freezing.

*I don't know exactly why, but it's most definitely better when you use cake flour. So use it. That, and the fresh nutmeg. Now excuse me, I have to go eat that picture.

December 18, 2007


I love food. I like to consider how it's grown, harvested, processed or transformed into the marvels that end up on my plate. I like reading about other people's experiences with the process...great celebrity chefs, home cooks, food essayists, and boy scouts with a weiner on a stick. I'm inspired and excited by the "gourmet", but truly awestruck by the simple...the recipe or idea that is uncluttered and honors the original idea of food. Which, to me, is to sustain us, not only nutritionally or emotionally, but on so many other levels of comfort and enjoyment. So, because of this love and also my passion for writing, I've decided to FINALLY start a blog - friends and family have encouraged me for long enough and I'm going to stop dilly-dallying and get busy.
Shout out to Jenny Flake, whose own blog has inspired me. Thanks Jenny!

I don't think I'll have any one "theme" to this blog...just food thoughts and obsessions, recipes, cooking tips and techniques I've gleened from a variety of sources, cookbook reviews, tirades about food snobs and culinary dictators, and my admiration for people who really know how to cook and how they make people happy with their creations... everyday ramblings of someone who is a little whacked out about food and how we eat and enjoy it.

I do know that our society has complicated thoughts about food and cooking. Cultural, dietary, generational, political,'ll be fun to write about all of it and read your comments and suggestions - I hope you find something of value here. Enjoy!
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"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.