Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dinner in Paris

Paris was stunning! The food, well it was stunning too. Paris is a heavenly destination for foodies.

We enjoyed a local restaurant in the center of Paris. I ordered a simple egg dish (honestly, it was the only menu item I could decipher on the long list of possibilities), and what arrived would be absolutely delicious.  3 sunny-side up fried eggs, served over a bed of lettuce. A side of fried potatoes, like your mother never cooked, served over a bed of fresh shredded lettuce, tossed in a vinaigrette. What was this fabulous French country meal served with? A bottle of light red Rhone table wine. I think I died and went to heaven.
I was trying to be discreet, as I was making a damn fool out of myself snapping photos of my food.  The waiter said nothing, his thoughts? Well, who knows but, when he did speak, his accent was divine.

I tried recreating this recipe at home. My attempt proved not to be too bad. I was reminded how a unlikely combination (eggs and lettuce) can taste so good. Still, there was no comparison to what I ate in Paris. I am sure that has something to do with eating this meal in Paris, and then recreating the dish in Tallahassee, Florida.  Anyhow, I am going to keep working on perfecting this recipe. It's easy and inexpensive to prepare. I think it would make a great dinner mid-week, or a pretty impressive meal for entertaining. Most importantly, don't forget the wine to serve along with this meal. We Americans can learn a thing or two about serving wine with our eggs.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Margarita Mayhem

What do you do on a hot summer evening?  You turn the music up on the IPod and you invite your friends over to compete in a margarita challenge! Where? Outside on the back patio in the sultry heat.


Our friends don't take a challenge lightly! There were no margarita slackers in this group. We had 25 guests that included 7 contenders for the title. The prize? A chance to wear the Mexican Sombrero that we bought on a cruise a few years ago.

Our 1st place winner: Frozen Melon Margarita. 

Ken's Now Famous Melon Margarita Recipe
6-ounces frozen limeade
*note- use the limeade can to measure the remaining ingredients
6-ounces good quality Tequila
4.5 ounces ( 3/4 of the limeade can) Melon Dew Schnapps
3-ounces (1/2 of the limeade can) of freshly squeezed lime juice
Place all the ingredients in the blender and give it a whirl.

Another great margarita recipe!

Lee Eng's Cool Coconut Dessert Margarita

6-ounces really delicious Tequila
2-ounces Triple Sec
Splash of Grand Marnier
70/30 fresh squeezed limes and lemons
Simple syrup  (1cup sugar to 2 cups water). Cook until sugar dissolves.
Add lemon and lime juices to simple syrup
Coconut Milk
Bella's Coconut Gelato
Toasted and salted coconut- Use sweetened flake coconut, pour out into roasting pan, lightly toast and cool. Add salt, then roast briefly under broiler. Let cool.
Zest of both lemons and limes- add to simple syrup mixture
Add ice to blender (about 1/3 filled)
Add tequila, Triple Sec, Tequila, and Grand Mariner. Add 1 cup (to start) of lemon and lime juice
Add 1/3 cup of coconut milk
Add 1 cup coconut gelato
Blend on ice crusher until slushy and smooth.
To dress margarita glass- Rim the outside of the glass with simple syrup (sugar, lemon and lime mixture). Lightly sprinkle the coconut to cover the rim.
Pour and enjoy a delicious cool dessert margarita. Add a sprinkle of zest for color pop!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Deliciously Dutch Part II

The Dutch can boast a food culture that includes open-air markets with a variety of fresh food products that include meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables. Many Dutch who live outside the city have home gardens too. This allows for much of the population to eat locally and seasonally.
The abundance of seasonal vegetables contributes to the Dutch fondness for soups. The Dutch love soup! Loaded with fresh vegetables, soup remains a mainstay in the Dutch diet.
Loek discovered a flavorful, healthy, simple soup recipe using fresh broccoli, from Chef Gordon Ramsey. He prepared this delicious soup for us during our time spent in the Netherlands. This soup is a meal by itself, and served with a simple salad, you are going to feel like you are not going to eat for days.

Broccoli Soup

Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 heads very fresh broccoli
olive oil to taste

Cut the florets off the heads of broccoli. Cut the stems into similarly sized pieces. Add all of the broccoli--florets and stems into a pot of rapidly boiling, salted water ( e.g. 2 Tablespoons salt in 5 quarts of water). Cover. Cook 3-4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, place the cooked broccoli pieces into a blender. Fill blender about half way with cooking liquid as necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Season to taste.
If desired, add cheese ( goat or cheddar) to the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup. Serve, drizzled with olive oil, if desired.
"eet Smakelijk" (Pronounced Ate Smahk-A-lek), which means to "Eat deliciously"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mango-Lime Sangria

Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer. This is the 17th day of the hottest and most sultry month of summer here in the south. What better way to beat the heat than to stretch out on the patio under the ceiling fans, and enjoy fresh homemade sangria.

Summer fruit is abundant and Mangoes are definitely a favorite fruit this time of year for many of us. This recipe is perfect to forget the heat, kick-back and enjoy an afternoon with your friends.

Mango-Lime Sangria
Makes 8 servings

Using a dry rose instead of the more traditional red wine makes this a lighter, more refreshing sangria.

1 cup peeled, chopped mango
1/3 cup superfine sugar
10-ounces fresh orange juice
10-ounces fresh lime juice
1-ounce triple sec
3 limes, thinly sliced
1-2 oranges, thinly sliced
1/3 cup peach brandy or peach schnapps
1-2 bottles dry rose wine
1-2 bottles soda water
Garnish: fresh lavender or mint

1. Combine the chopped mango with sugar and let sit for one hour.
2. Combine the macerated mangoes with the orange juice, lime juice, Triple sec, sliced limes, sliced oranges, peach brandy(or schnapps) and rose in a large preferably clear pitcher. Stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes or up to 8 hours.
3. To serve. Stir to mix. Fill glass half full of ice cubes; add juice mixture and soda water. Garnish

By the way, we did get a slight reprieve from the heat with a surprise tropical storm named Claudette. Lucky for us, we did not get a direct hit but, managed to enjoy a very rainy evening.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Literally translated from Dutch to English poffertjes means fritter. These little cakes get their name from the Dutch word meaning to puff up like popcorn or popovers. This is a tasty Dutch treat served traditionally with butter on top, and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. However, there is no reason to stop there because preserves, whipped cream, fresh fruit, liqueurs and ice cream are good too. These fritters ( we think pancake) are usually served as an afternoon snack.
Poffertjes are cooked in a special cast iron pan with many small indentations. I think our Dutch American ancestors forgot to bring the pan with them on their journey across the Atlantic. As a result, the Dutch improvised and the American pancake was born! Seriously, to get the airy, puffy look, it is going to require the special pan.

Note: I used a metric conversion table

3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup lukewarm milk
2-teaspoons yeast
2 -Tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch salt
4-1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
Powdered sugar

1. Dissolve the yeast in a small portion of the milk.
2. Sift all the flour with the salt, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture.
3. Stir from the center, slowly adding the remaining milk followed by the beaten egg and syrup.
4. Leave the mixture to rise about for an hour in a warm place
5. Heat the "special" pan on high heat, butter each cup and pour in a small amount of the mixture, filling about half-way.
6. Cook till the poffertjes are golden and dry on the bottom.
7. Turn them ( with a small fork or toothpick) and the cook the other side.
8. A poffertjes pan usually makes about a dozen, enough for one person.
note: I love #8 above!
9. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and put a small pat of butter on top of the poffertjes.
10. Serve hot.

These tiny Dutch fritters is a treat not to be missed!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Deliciously Dutch

Our vacation began in the town of Terborg, located in the providence of Gelderland, approximately 10-km from the German border. This eastern part of the Netherlands provides a typical Dutch landscape of abundant green space, farms, and bicycle paths in a country where they take their bicycles seriously. So seriously, that they are the only country in the world where there are more bicycles than people. In Amsterdam alone, there are 1.6 million bicycles and only a population of 800,000 people.

Parking garage for bicycles in Amsterdam
The Dutch do not pride themselves on having a world famous cuisine but, that does not mean that there are not plenty of good dishes to be enjoyed. Like most Europeans, the dutch are not preoccupied with nutrition, and diet and the idea of eating healthy. They simply enjoy their food, and they do so, with substantially lower rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes than their American counterparts.

Americans need to be reminded to enjoy the pleasure of eating. Eating is as much about biology as it is about culture. If you look at our American food culture, we eat in the car, in front of the TV and, increasingly alone. We have a tendency to eat and run, rather than to dine and savor. On this vacation my family enjoyed a sit down meal everyday. The food was uncomplicated in its preparation but comforting and soul satisfying. Food was always enjoyed with good company and a healthy dose of laughter.
Not too mention often followed up by a bike ride through the countryside.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pork Chops with Prune Sauce

While I am downloading my photos and getting my thoughts together about my recent adventure to Holland and to Paris. I asked Erica from My Columbian Recipes to be a guest blogger and she agreed! Erica is a native Columbian and now lives in the U.S.. She enjoys sharing her passion for Columbian food and culture with her readers. She has a wonderful food blog site. I encourage you to visit her site at

Thanks Erica!

Pork Chops with Prune Sauce
Colombians love all kinds of meat and pork is one of the country's favorites. I remember my grandmother saying that she did not have any food in the house with which to cook, yet the pantry and refrigerator were filled with food. For Mamita and her family, not having meat in the house was like having no food at all.

The prune sauce goes great with the pork chops and you can use the sauce with other types of meat dishes as well.

(4 servings)

4-pork chops
1/4 cup salt
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil


1 cup pitted prunes
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup water
Pinch of salt


1. Dissolve the salt in water in a large bowl. Place the pork chops in the mixture, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. Remove the pork chops from the mixture and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chops into the heated oil and cook about 5-7 minutes per side. Depending on the thickness of the chops. Transfer the pork chops to a plate.

4. Reduce heat to medium low. In the same pan, add the butter, prunes, water, pinch of salt and sugar. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the wine and salt and continue cooking for 15 minutes more. Pour half of the sauce over the chops and serve immediately, using the remaining sauce as table gravy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Be Home Soon!!

I am disappointed that I have not been able to share my travel experience with you while I am away in Holland. By the time, there is time to sit down in quiet space, it is far too late in the evening, and I am too bone tired to try to put sentences together.
The trip has been amazing! I do not think we have stopped eating since arriving. I have taken tons of photos, and have food experiences that I am looking forward to sharing. I will be home this weekend. As soon as I can get unpacked, get a good night's sleep and download my photos, I will be back online sharing my travel and food experiences with you.

Tomorrow morning, we are off to Paris by train. My walking shoes are ready! My list with common French phrases is ready too. I will do my best to not butcher the language when trying to use my non-existent french accent to communicate with the locals.

Just a thought: The population of Amsterdam is 800,000. The population of bicycles in Amsterdam is 1.6 miliion in a city that has more canals than it does streets.

Until later!