May 26, 2008


I will be out of town for the next few days. Try not to mess anything up here, ok? Don’t have a slumber party and try to Ouija up the ghost of Marilyn Monroe while giving each other belly button piercings and henna tattoos. Or skateboarding! Absolutely not!
And positively NO ferrets in the house! Do you guys remember last time???

Before I go, I have a favor. Does anybody know what this gadget is? My friend found it in a box of kitchen stuff at a garage sale. It is very light-weight (aluminum, I’m guessing), no trademarks or any markings on it. The two long parts push together like a tongs. When you push it together the square part goes thru a slot. It's not sharp. It's like something you'd use to cut butter, maybe? I’ve never seen anything like it. We’re hoping it is some rare implement of which there are only 3 of in the whole world, and we can then take it to “Antique Roadshow” and have it valued at $37,494.

What could this be, people????

Then, after I sell it to some Eurotrash folk-art collector, I’m totally not blogging anymore, ‘cause I’ll be in Bali, running a day spa.
So, if you have any idea, and can identify this, you get a 20% off a massage in Bali. Or a seaweed body wrap….your choice.

"The Dish Day Spa"

Also, my favorite brother-in-law, Kim, sends me the greatest emails. Ok, maybe not all of them are great. I’m pretty fed up with the ones about blondes with big boobs. And priests, rabbis, and a donkey at a bar. And why Hillary Clinton’s ankles are like NASCAR. Like……I care, Kim????? Can't you see I'm a very busy person, trying to score on Antique Roadshow???

Anyway, the photo below he sent me last week is still cracking me up. I sooo want to make this for someone someday….preferably Anthony Bourdain….if he would ever answer my emails. How many do I have to send anyway, Tony??? Listen, I can only hold that room in Nogales for another two weeks! Get back to me, dude!

"Redneck Seafood Dinner"

May 23, 2008


In my previous post I said I wouldn’t be posting food related stuff this weekend. I’m such a liar. It’s raining, and when it’s raining I NEED to be in the kitchen doing something. Maybe it’s genetic programming that when the weather gets dicey we start to stock up on the food supplies? Or maybe it’s the warmth coming off the burners and oven?? Regardless, it’s imperative that I be in there, with pans clattering and butter softening. I’m very impressed with this rainy day baking situation. These are very very VERY good and I suggest you make them right away. I bet you have everything you need…maybe you’ll need run out for the fig jam, or just use apricot. Or invent your own damn glaze, ok? They are the perfect size for a sweet little dessert perched on a cute plate or a sweet gift (in a tiny box with a big bow) to someone you really, really like. Sorry….the rain makes me all sentimental and fluffy. Maybe it’s a genetic desire to crawl deep into a down comforter with a little....cheesecake!

Miniature Lemon Cheesecakes with Brandied Fig Glaze

Makes 6

1 ½ cups vanilla wafers (before crushing!), about 3 ½ oz
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fig jam
3 tablespoons brandy

1. In food processor, pulse cookies until fine. Add melted butter and pulse until just combined. . Line a 6 hole, oversized muffin pan with paper baking cups.
Divide mixture into bottom of muffins cups, pressing firmly. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
3. Beat cheese, lemon peel, and sugar in medium sized bowl with electric mixer until very smooth and incorporated. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Pour mixture into muffin cups.
4. Bake about 30 minutes or until just barely firm to touch, a little jiggle left. Cool on rack.
5. Combine fig jam and brandy in small heavy saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until simmering, stirring occasionally. Cook until reduced to nice syrupy, glaze consistency. Strain, and let cool slightly.
6. With tablespoons, spoon glaze over tops of cheesecakes and smooth to edges. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

May 22, 2008

“COOK”ing up some “ArCHARDleta”!

I must say, I was surprised that Mr. Potato Head won! Both those guys were really great, but I figured the 12-13 year-old Bratz bunch had the most stamina for dialing in votes for Archuleta.

Can someone tell me what’s the deal with the wallet chains on those two? Is someone going to steal David Cook’s hair gel? Or David Archuleta’s lunch money? Really, who wears those outfits? Besides that guy down at Napa Auto Parts.

I guess I’m still miffed my favorite, that hunk of burning Australian love got voted off. His duet with the Irish chick was AWESOME!

For your viewing pleasure

Anyhoo. My CSA vegetables for the week are making a big green scene in my refrigerator (Green garlic! Lamb’s quarters! Spinach! Japanese Turnips!) so I wanted to use the very beautiful and lush Swiss Chard….my peeps at the farm said it was the best they had grown and boy, was this bunch of ever gorgeous. This recipe is from Gourmet, Feb 2008. It’s very nice, although my husband isn’t all that crazy about any hint of sweetness in greens. But he still calls email “internet letters”, so let’s just consider the source.

“Swiss Chard with Raisins and Almonds”

Serves 4

½ large onion (I used 2 large shallots), sliced lengthwise, thinly
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
2 lb Swiss chard, center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (that’s nonsense – chop up the ribs and add them to the sautéing shallots!)
½ cup golden raisins (I used regular, but I see the wisdom in golden)
½ cup water (use a little less – the chard gives up a lot of moisture)
¼ cup coarsely chopped almonds with skins

1. Cook onion with ¼ teaspoon salt in a 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 5-6 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until softened. Sprinkle with paprika and stir, cooking for another minute.
2. Add chard in batches, stirring down, until wilted, then add raisins and water. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, about 7 minutes. Season with salt.
3. Cook almonds in remaining oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle almonds over chard.

FLASH!!! I got a very nice award from JerseyGirlCooks! Thank you so very much!

It is the "Arte y Pico Award"....!

I will be pondering who I'll pass this on to in my next post. Posting will be non-food related for the next couple of's a busy busy weekend. I hope everyone has a terrific 3 day holiday!

May 19, 2008

Javanese Roasted Salmon

Some lovely Wild Coho Salmon in the supermarket! It actually looked wonderful. It’s rare to see good fresh salmon up here in the land of 'filet of Gila Monster'. There are some terrific seafood restaurants in Phoenix, but as summer comes on, all I can think about is a shipping container sitting on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport in 120 degree heat. And then a truck driving up here, some 100 miles, by a guy named Buddy who stops every 20 minutes to get a Pabst from the cooler back by the fish. But it’s not that hot yet, and I wanted to make a special sauce. Something heavenly. I wanted to blog something good, not just some insane rant about my feet. You know how I get.

Heather will know about this. Hell, I know she cooks it better! But, she LIVES in a cornucopia of beautiful fresh food and I live in a place where “Whole Foods” means a bale of hay.

It’s an adaptation of Javanese Roasted Salmon from Saucebox in Portland. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same ingredients, but it’s close enough and so very good. I perched this salmon on a bed of a mix of sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and baby bok choy. And some coconut rice, but I could have skipped that. The pics look kinda disgusting…like a big bloody scab or something, but I promise the flavor of that sauce is addictive. Maybe I should take a camera class? I just can’t get capture the beautifulness of some of my kitchen action.

Oh, and there’s a picture of my pet robin. He’s a male that couldn’t find a mate this spring, and he’s been squawking his head off first thing in the morning for 2 months. He’s very lonely and comes hopping across the yard when I whistle at him. He gets pretty close before he remembers that I’m a human, then he pretends to be all busy with the grubs and bugs. But I know he loves me.

Ok, that last comment was kinda crazy. Talking to birds. And I said this would be an issue-free post. Sorry.

I just can’t post a recipe without some weirdo confession, can I?

Javanese Roasted Salmon (lifted from The Saucebox)

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, grated into fine mess
¼ cup packed brown sugar
About 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup shoyu
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
4 beautiful salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed (I use my trusty, eh, eh)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the sugar, lime juice, and shoyu…bring to boil. Simmer, stirring a lot, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. Then add the cornstarch/water and boil until thick, about one more minute. Set aside.

2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil In a sauté pan, heat the remaining butter over high heat. Swirl to coat pan. Sear salmon fillets until golden on one side. Flip and sear over side, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer salmon to baking sheet. Smear about a tablespoon of the sauce over each fillet. Place in preheated oven and roast for about 5 minutes or until opaque and flakey.

3. Serve over a bed of butter-sautéed spinach or other greens. Drizzle with remaining sauce.

May 17, 2008

Why No, Officer....That's Not Salt!

Straight up, these are very good. Adapted from a recipe at, it’s yet another way for me to use my burgeoning collection of smoked salts. You guys know, don’t you, that I am a salt freak? It’s just a matter of time until I figure out a way to make a salt cake with salty frosting…on a bed of salt. With salt fondant.

What I REALLY wanted to make was a cookie with a Vosges Haut Chocolate “Mo’s Bacon Bar”….. alder wood smoked bacon, smoked sea salt, and milk chocolate. Imagine that. Bacon AND salt AND chocolate. Isn’t that just about the most perfect combination??? But my source was sold out. Probably sold out to me. I ate two bars the other day, about 30 seconds apart, with no stops for breathing. I’m thinking that will be an amazing cookie when I get around to it. A bacon and salt chocolate cookie – will the wonderment never end here at The Dish???

But I had my new $16.50 jar of Smoked Coconut Lime Salt from Artisan Salts.

I think these would be great after Mexican food.

I hope you try them out. Easy little suckers, and I just loved them.

Salty-Sweet Coconut Lime Cookies

¾ cup shredded sweetened coconut
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup confectioners sugar, plus about 1/3 cup for coating cookies
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
About 3 tablespoons smoked coconut lime salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, process the coconut and lime zest until fine. Set aside. In small bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, the soft butter, and canola oil until very smooth. Beat in the egg yolks and lime juice. Using low speed beat in the flour mixture until it comes together. Stir in the coconut and lime zest mixture.
4. Form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Slightly tap them to flatten a bit. Bake in preheated oven to 15-20 minutes, or until the bottoms are moderately browned. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two. While cookies are warm, roll in remaining powdered sugar to coat, tapping off excess sugar. Dip the tops into salt (or sprinkle over top) and let cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 40 cookies.

***After taste tests, I’d up the amount of lime juice, say, another tablespoon. And be sure to get the salt on there while the cookie is very warm, so it kinda melts into the cookie.

May 16, 2008

It's For The Children!!!!


I went to a children’s charity event last night at the swanky Valley Ho in Scottsdale. On the roof, at sunset! It’s a groovy place, a re-do of an old Arizona classic 50’s hotel. Very mod and chic.

I wore high heels, which is just about the stupidest thing in the world for me to do. They hurt after 30 seconds. My feet have…issues. Really, when WILL I learn that it’s gotta be flip flops and bedroom slippers from now on??? Probably not ever - I love shoes. The more ridiculously uncomfortable, the better. But last night was beyond my usual level of denial and I had to take them off almost immediately, roll up my pants that then dragged on the floor, and looked like a hillbilly amongst the very mod and chic crowd. Oh well.

There were many wonderful baskets of goodies, trips, tickets to pro games, jewelry, etc. on display during the silent auction. After getting the shoes off, I was better able to cruise around and zero in on my favorites. The first was a big basket of cooking stuff. I couldn’t really see everything inside due to the profusion of cellophane and ribbons. But I saw a beautiful glass bowl, some cookbooks, (one signed by Paula Deen that I would give to a friend who loves her) silicone mats, baking items, and other stuff... so I put in a bid.

Then I figured I “needed” a trip to Belize for 8 people in a beach house. Hey, it’s charity!!! For the children!!!! So I put a bid on that and tried to keep it a “secret” from my husband. But some ratfink told him what I did, and he raced over with a Sharpie to cross my name out. There was some mild threatening with a high heel, and immediately he saw how reasonable I was being – you know, it’s for the children!!!.

From there, things got tense. It was a whole hour until the bidding closed and I had to watch those bid sheets like a hawk. One lady had the AUDACITY to put a bid higher than mine on the cooking basket!!!! So I put another higher bid in. And put the basket on top of the bid sheet.

Then I raced over to the Belize trip. Nobody had bid after me! I had a ridiculously low bid in and my heart was racing! Fantasies of laying on the beach, watching monkeys frolic, eating mangos and being showered by gratitude from the 7 people I brought with me….but while that fantasizing was going on, somebody put down a higher bid! Frantically, I got a friend to bid and I promised we’d split the trip cost if we got it. I made him stand there and watch it while I raced back to check the cooking basket.

All this charity work makes me tired. And my feet hurt.

In the end, I did get the cooking basket. It’s awesome. See the picture of the loot? There's way more, but didn't get it all in the picture. The glass bowl is lovely. And sure enough, the cookbook is signed by Paula Deen. My friend will flip out. I don't get it, but she thinks my love for Bourdain is obscene.

We didn’t “win” the Belize trip, but the owner of the donated beach house was there, saw my idiotic maneuvering and running around, felt sorry for me (or possibly my husband holding my shoes while I ran around), and offered us (and our friends) the beach house at the same low price as the winning bid at another time. It’s a majorly awesome place at an amazingly low price, and I’m stoked! Coconuts and monkeys for everyone!

Oh yeah. There was food there. Can’t remember what it was, but since this is a food blog...I’m thinking…crackers and cheese???

May 15, 2008

Oh, hello

First of all, thank you for the very nice comments, emails, and best wishes. Could there be a better bunch of food-crazy peeps on the planet? I think not! Thank you. Can’t wait to catch up with everyone on their blogs and see what’s been exploding in your kitchens.

It’s been one thing after another with no time or inclination to blog. But like an allergy to cat hair, the itch is back. I have a variety of random ideas and recipes to flog away at…but before I get on it, a few thoughts:

1. Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the Moms…whether or not your children are human or not.

2. Please get “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. It will change a lot of your crazy ass notions about what food really is.

3. Tiny little container of concentrated demi-glace (1.5 oz – “Creating classic French Stocks and Sauces That Meet the Highest Standards of Culinary Excellence”) – just found some for the very first time, and I’m thinking it’s illegal. Anybody know how much time I’d do for using this stuff??

4. I won a contest on Epicurious for a Mother’s Day promotion. It’s a nice recipe, although my Dad says it’s “tolerable”. The win was a nice surprise and a needed morale booster.

5. My CSA vegetables have started to roll in and I’m telling you, if you have never tasted a white Japanese turnip, well, I’m feeling sorry for you right now. Get thee to a farmer's market, stat!

Again, thank you for taking the time to leave such welcome and warming comments.

If I could, I’d bake you all a nice big cake. Uh...not the Epicurious one...that one is just 'tolerable'.
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"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.