Sunday, July 30, 2006


I recently posted about a dessert my brother had at Mama’s Fish House in Maui. The Black Pearl was not only drop-dead gorgeous, but a real taste treat. As a reminder, it is a passion fruit mousse, enrobed in dark chocolate, served in a cookie shell, with a fancy chocolate a passion fruit sunburst-patterned sauce.

So let’s see who can recreate it. If you think you can whip one up, let me know. Send the recipe and a picture of the final outcome. Winner gets an autographed copy of my soon-to-be hot-off-the-press book, The World Is a Kitchen. Deadline is my birthday, August 27th.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Not quite a total disaster...

So I came home from work and really, all I wanted was a drink. Just a small iced beverage. So as I opened the outside freezer to retrieve the ice, I noticed something wrong. The frozen water bottles weren’t frozen. The roast wasn’t iced over. The boneless chicken breasts were soft and the bag of frozen mangos was bloated, ready to explode.

The freezer coils were iced over so badly that they weren’t working properly. My husband and I proceeded to toss out the bad, refrigerate the defrosted, and rearrange the inside freezer to accommodate that which was still frozen. The turkey wouldn’t fit anywhere, so got put into a ice chest with ice and ice packs. As my husband dragged the freezer out to the driveway for defrosting, I was shoving ruined chicken avoglemeno down the disposal in dismay. But wait…there’s more. The drain decided at that exact moment to become plugged. Churned chicken water came bubbling up from the disposal side, mucky liquid spewed from the overflow valve, and the big sink began filling up. Like they say, when it rains it pours.

So I switched places with my husband, wielding a hose and spraying down the icy interior of the freezer, while he got the pipe wrench and appropriate tools to allow the drain to function properly. After what seemed like a lifetime, success was achieved on both levels. My son returned from work and moved the freezer back into place, drain pipes were reinstalled, sinks were cleaned, and…finally, I got that icy cold drink. Needless to say, I added some alcohol to the beverage!

Of course, I was left with what to do with the defrosted items. Being tired, and after 8pm, I dragged out the crock pot, threw in the roast, and a large jar of tomatillo salsa and let the puppy run all night. I woke up this morning, shredded the beef, and tomorrow I am making enchiladas. Now, I literally threw the meat in, disgusted as I was, and I really didn’t add anything but a jar of the green salsa. How easy was that? A can of olives, some Mexican or sharp cheddar cheese, tortillas, and I will have enough enchiladas to feed 10. Good thing, too, as my brother and his family are coming to town and we are spending the weekend cleaning out my dad’s house in preparation for putting it on the market, a real task.

A delicious sight

My brother Michael, the other foodie in the family, just got back from two weeks in Hawaii (the lucky dog). He came home raving about Mama’s Fish House in Maui. Not being a fish lover, he even raved about the fish. But his favorite part of the meal, which he knew I would enjoy, was the dessert. Called the Black Pearl, it was a passion fruit mousse enrobed in dark chocolate and presented in a shell made of fortune cookie dough. The presentation was gorgeous, as you can see below. Anyone got a recipe for this?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm Back!

It would appear that I have brought the heat back from Las Vegas. My last day there it was 116 degrees. When we exited the MGM Grand at midnite, the temp on the car (which was parked in a covered garage) was 111.

This week in the burbs it has been high 90s and yesterday hit 104. Its probably closer to 100 today, and the newscasts show that we should get some relief tomorrow, but meanwhile, it is hard to do much cooking in this type of weather. We barbecued every night last week to keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Yesterday we hit the farmers market. Picked up some peaches and plums, green beans, beets, raspberries and blackberries, fresh kalamata olive bread, and field greens. I cooked the beets yesterday on the grill. Just oiled ‘em up, threw them in a roasting pan with some salt and pepper, covered it in foil, and put them on the grill at about 400 degrees. Two turns and 40 minutes later, they were done. So we had a nice salad last night with the field greens, sliced beets, goat cheese, and pistachios. Perfect for my depressed appetite. (If I don’t lose weight through this heat wave, then I never will.)

Tonight I’ve decided Sunday dinner will be beer can chicken, pasta salad, those green beans, and Alexandria will make a peach/blueberry crisp for dessert. All can be cooked on the grill or the burner that is attached. Don’t want to risk breaking our thermostat by heating the house, as it is already pegged all the way to the right. We have so few really hot days here that air conditioning really isn’t warranated. We don’t have a pool, but I did turn the hot tub down, so we can dip in and out of that for some relief. You know, necessity being the mother of invention and all…..

Anyway, the beer chicken is really easy—almost set it and forget it. The recipe I am using is a modification of one in an issue of Cook’s Country magazine and makes 2 chickens, which is enough for our Sunday dinner (6 people), plus some left for lunch or a salad.

Spice Rub
2T packed brown sugar
2 T paprika
1 T salt
1T black pepper
1 t cayenne

2 T packed brown sugar
2 T ketchup
2 T white vinegar
2 T beer
1 t hot sauce

Make up the rub in a bowl. Make the glaze and add 1 tablespoon of the rub mixture. Empty out about 1/3 of the beer in the cans (pour it into a frosty cool mug and enjoy while you prep). Clean out the inside of the chicken, rub with the spices and plop the chicken on top of the can.

You can cook this on a charcoal grill or a gas grill. It is preferable to use soaked wood chips with either method for a smoky woody flavor. Chicken should be cooked on indirect heat, with coals on either side of the birds or by using burners on either side of the chickens. Cover and grill for 40-60 minutes until well browned and crisp. Brush with glaze and cook another 20 minutes.

You do have to be careful removing chickens from grill. I use oven mitts with foil in the palms, so that the outside goodies don’t come off on the mitts. Let cool for 10 minutes on the can. Then remove chicken from can and carve.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On Hiatus

Sincere apologies for my absence. I have been crazed getting the last bits of the book finished. But yesterday it went off to the printer and tomorrow I will see the final color proof of the cover. Then I can let out a big sigh and....get on a plane to Vegas! A much needed getaway to the land of make believe. As per usual, I will work to eat my through town and I hope to share a bit with you while there. But I will be back to posting the week of July 17th, so please tune back in.