Sunday, August 3, 2014


The inspiration for this dish was a magnificent friend, Manfredi Pio di Savoia, who was born under the sign of Pisces and who loved water, boats, and fish. The first time I made it for his birthday luncheon,was, sadly, the last meal I cooked for him; he passed away in Rome a couple years ago.

List of ingredients
The Salmon:
one pound of fresh salmon steaks
2 cups each white wine, water
2 bay leaves,  tablespoon peppercorns, 1 medium sliced onion

The Mustard Cream
2 tablespoons gelatin, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
2-3 tablespoons dry mustard
pinch salt
1 cup of whipping cream, whipped

The Garnish:
2 avocados, sliced
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
red lettuce leaves
dried parsley
1 olive

The Sauce
1 cup sour cream
cream horseradish to taste

Fish mold
kitchen towel
hair dryer

Method:  Read the recipe thoroughlyDo all of your shoppingPlan to make this one day ahead of serving.

Hard boil 4 eggs, chill, remove shells, refrigerate in a container with paper towels on the bottom.

Simmer the wine, water, bay leaves, peppercorns and onion for 20- 30 minutes in a deep saucepan that has a lid. Add the salmon, poach for 10-12 minutes, turn off heat, add lid and let cool. When you can safely touch the sides of the pan, remove salmon, take off any skin and bones,  place pieces on a paper towel.  This section can be done 2 days ahead, refrigerate salmon, strain salmon broth and freeze for another poaching or a fish stew. It is very tasty to drink, as is.

Mustard Cream
Place vinegar, water, and sugar in saucepan, add dissolved gelatin and dry mustard, using a spoon to dissolve lumps. Bring to boil over medium heat, strain, again using spoon to work through strainer. Cool completely.Whip the cream, fold into gelatin mixture. At this point you are ready to fill the fish mold with salmon and Mustard Cream. Note: you will have about 2 cups of mustard cream left over.  I put it in a smaller mold to use later with another dish.  It is very tasty with ham.

Spray mold with non stick cooking spray. Ladle in Mustard Cream to cover bottom. The mold has a small support at the tail end which helps steady the uneven bottom. Start laying in pieces of salmon over the Cream, you will have some salmon left for other things. Then cover the salmon with more Cream right up to the edge of the mold.  Refrigerate until firm, then cover with plastic wrap.
Prepare sour cream and horseradish by stirring together, place in serving dish with a spoon.

Day of Serving
Remove salmon mold to work surface.  Have large oval platter at the ready. Run a knife around the entire edge. Place salmon on the platter. To unmold, I take a kitchen towel and wet it thoroughly with hot water from the faucet, wring out the excess water, and lay over the whole outside of mold. You will need to do this 2 or 3 times. If it is a bit stubborn, I also use a hair dryer, whooshing the hot air over surface of mold, checking constantly to see if the salmon haas been released.  Caution!  Too much heat and the mold will begin to melt!

Once out, you can tuck in pieces of the lettuce.  Peel and slice the avocados; slice the eggs, place around the outside edges as you will, or as shown in the photograph. Place olive in for the eye.  Dust your magnificent dish with dried parsley.   Refrigerate until guests are seated and ready for your surprise.

I served hot buttered homemade olive bread with this recently, and a mixed grain salad (SooFoo, Maurice Kanbar's product.)

Recipe serves 6 people nicely.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Soweto, South Africa

South Africa Part 3

by Dianne Boate


The temperature had dropped down from the high 90’s, so we didn’t get the full benefit of South African summer weather in a shack made of corrugated iron, boasting one door and one small window that remained open only during daylight hours, never at night.

If you took three closet doors and laid them down in a U shape this would approximate the shape of this particular shack and tell you something of its size. It was very dark inside and smelled of kerosene. I sat with Robert, my traveling companion, and our hostess, around a small round table. With the U shape configuration, Robert was in the bedroom, I was in the living room and she was in the kitchen. Stacked mattresses with blankets and clothes strewn on them, piles of boxes with pots and pans and dishes, and a big stove that was no longer working was our view inside. Right in front of me on the table was an old sewing machine with a foot pedal to operate it.  Good thing, because there is no electricity and no running water, either. A wood or coal burning stove that does not work any more doesn’t make sense to me, but this is why we sat gagging on the stale kerosene air. Kerosene was fuel for the cooking unit on top of the stove.

There was a pull between good manners and self preservation, with the former winning, as we talked with the occupant, a single woman  grandparent. Her name is Ivy. She is a large lady with a broad kindly face. A beige crochet hat with some stitches unraveled sat upon her head in spite of the heat. She was proud of herself because she could speak to us in English. She is surrounded by literally thousands of neighbors whose language she does not always understand. If you could start from where I was seated and zoom up to the 10th degree and take a photograph you could understand my panic. There are 4 million people in the South Western Township called SoWeTo and we were smack dab in the middle somewhere.  As we talked, woman to woman, brown eyes meeting blue eyes sincerely, we learned about each other’s lives. She tries to earn money with sewing, raise a grandchild, and stay out of the way of things that happen in the night. I told her about the homeless living on city streets so she would know we have bad conditions to take care of, too. There is a big difference between empathy and pity but these got very mixed up. It upset me to know that I would walk out of there and go take a swim in a pool that was larger than her house and she had to stay there.               

We were down to the last three days of our trip, houseguests in a suburb of Johannesburg. Our hostess suggested this tour and made the arrangements. The township tours are new. According to Jurgen Wessels, the local people saw a tourism opportunity, and I ask you, Why Not? It puts money into an area where the effects of unemployment would make you cry. 

Our guide lives in Soweto and took us to his house. This was more of a real house with real rooms. In being introduced to his mother, named Tiny, she took one look at me and exclaimed “Why I just love you!” 

Imagine:  On one street of this infamous township, two nobel Peace Prize winners lived: Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Nelson Mandela’s house is now a museum. Stepping inside, moving quickly because there were 15 French people behind me. I wanted the experience to myself. Mr. Mandela left something of himself in that house. Faith, hope, despair and dreams are lodged in the walls, coming out in the atmosphere letting their presence be known. 

Finally we visited an area where some very rich locals have built themselves houses that are testimonies to their success. As my father would say, “Everything is different and nothing is changed.”

It was getting late. Our guide needed to be back at home before dark. Dark is dangerous. He scrawled his name and address for me and then wrote, “It will be my pleasure to receive a book on American History. Thanks.”

Monday, December 10, 2012


Some thoughts on a wintery day that was spent baking - again

A few years ago I discovered a whole part of my father's family from Indiana, Pennsylvania, that I never heard about. Of particular interest here is one cousin, probably two times removed, who was very rich and went on hunting trips, - finding, shooting and presenting to the Smithsonian Museum the largest tiger ever found in India. He also commissioned another relative to write the family history, and that is how I found out that  in the late 1800s one of my relatives turned to opening a baking business when there seemed to be no solution to family financial problems.  Aha, one clue.

Then thinking back to when I was three years old, I tasted a piece of warm cake, and believe me, I never forgot it. Another clue.

Up to fifteen years old there was my great grandmother's baking of bread, pies, some cakes, cookies and something really terrific that was a Cottage Pudding with peaches on the bottom and lemon sauce over the top.  In the neighborhood of Elk River where we all lived, another woman was absolutely famous for her Angel Food Cakes topped with Seven Minute Icing. This young lady took note.

There are a number of stories and good baking adventures between that and now, 2012, but just today as I sat down with one of my favorite cookbooks, "Heavenly Cakes," by my friend, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I thumbed through the pages looking for some specifics for my baking enterprise today, and found all manner of things I have not made yet, and realized with a bit of good glee, that what I would really like doing than anything, is to bake them.

You get to a certain point of life where you set your preferences and live accordingly.  I have a tendency to work on all the things that have been "on my list" for a long time, so what I can do is highly eclectic, but today, all over again, my first love is baking.  I can read a recipe and practically taste it.  I can make up recipes.  I can sail into the kitchen and start hauling out things and pretty soon, golden loaves or cakes are coming out of the oven.

But it is still not the point:   My passion for baking lies in improving what I know, enlarging upon it, inventing with it, and most of all, making something I never made before. That is the jewel in the baking crown of activity for me. I am very happy every morning spending some time sorting out my food files...and of course, there are a lot of unmade cakes there. 

I know some people do not like to make food, but the kitchen is a magnet for me, where I can think clearly, pay attention, invent, and produce some good stuff generally, that will be giving pleasure to a lot of others.

Friday, November 2, 2012


The Kitchen Orchestra Creates a New Tune

What, you may ask, is The Kitchen Orchestra?  The Orchestra is everything in your kitchen, crying out, cajoling, imploring, seducing you with the myriad possibilities that rest with the wave of your conducting baton. And what makes a good conductor?  Listening and paying attention.  In my kitchen, listening to ingredients on hand is what produces unusual dishes and meals.  How do you listen? You listen to your imagination. You pay attention to what you have on hand and learn every day how to salvage bits and parts, turning scraps into a concerto of flavors.

This Carrot Raisin salad began with an almost finished jar of Dijon mustard. After scooping out about 3 tablespoons into a container, there was still a lot left. Aha! A little olive oil and vinegar was poured into the jar: Extra mustard flavor vinaigrette, strong, but good.

Next, a phone call: Could I provide snacks for art class? Weary of fiddle -faddle-fat-laced goods, decided on a salad, using carrots and celery already purchased. Midway through the food processor grating operation, remembered fresh ginger and garlic on hand, out it came, in it went.

Several steps later, the salad was dressed with the Mustard Vinaigrette, some raisins and Mandarin oranges added to settle in for an overnight in the refrigerator.

Problem of what to serve it in solved easily - the bottom of my large salad spinner. Finishing was tucking in fresh spinach leaves, then topped with two diced avocados (a little lemon juice, please) and finely chop-chop-chop green onions and Italian parsley.

The recipe follows with certain notes, understanding first that this is a conceptual idea I made up as I went along, easily adapted to your own tastes.


8-9 large carrots, washed, ends cut off, then cut in 2 to 3- inch pieces for the food processor
4-5 stalks celery, leafy sections cut off (picture following), peeled with vegetable peeler, cut in 2 to 3 -inch pieces.
4 - 6 large cloves peeled garlic*
2 to 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled*
1 cup raisins
1 can drained Mandarin Oranges

about 2-3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 - 1/3 cup good olive oil
seasoned rice wine vinegar to taste, start with a couple tablespoons

Topping and finishing
Several large fresh spinach leaves
2 avocados, peeled and diced
3-4 scallions and several springs Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 lemon and ground pepper

Using fine grating disk, process carrots, celery, garlic, ginger.
(* Garlic and ginger are best processed in a small processor or cut finely by hand, something I found out later .)
Place in arge bowl, add raisins and Mandarin oranges. Add dressing, toss lightly cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. (Don't worry about this if you just can't wait...)
Place salad in appointed container, tuck in spinach leaves around the edges, place avocado on top with scallions and parsley, squeeze lemon juice over the avocados and dust with ground pepper.

There is no salt in this recipe and it is not needed.
Garlic and ginger add a big surprise.
Mustard vinaigrette adds more surprise - usually mayonnaise or sour cream is main part of dressing.
Avocado adds lush luxury.
Raisins balance the vinegar.
If you Really wanted to add a splurge...sour cream and toasted pecans on top of everything.

The applause of guests came in gusts as one by one they came back for 2nd and 3rd helpings. The concert hall is silent. The Conductor, wisely setting aside a small dish for herself, now contemplates the remains of the celery and nubs of the carrots and ginger left behind, certain to be thrown in some pot soon, thanking shining lucky stars for another successful foray into the "What if...?" You can go Where No One Has Gone Before right in your own kitchen.

Monday, October 22, 2012


 Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix Crepes; Graham Cracker Crepes;

I made these new recipes because they were intriguing. A lot of what goes on in my kitchen has to do with wanting to know how things work together.  (The same principal goes on in my Sewing Room.)I spent much time and effort on crepe making years ago; truly, have just forgotten about making them until.......well, there is a back story about how I got the recipes.

Shall I tell that first? Yes: The San Francisco Public Library Sale this September was taking place just after I returned from France.  I call it a Dangerous Place, but there i am every years,doing it again.

I do have some easy rules.
  1: Being specific about what I am looking for this time, things French, certain cookbook authors, knitting
  2: Allowing random perusal
..........found two more Ladies No1 Detective Agency books in paperback section
  3: Go back twice
..........lots of new books added and if it's the last day, everything is $1.

This is how I get the good stuff.  Of about 40 books this time, I found a 1974 book on crepe making never seen before.  Inside, dazzling recipes for all manner of crepes. The first two with instant appeal were the Graham Cracker and the Jiffy Corn Muffin mix crepes. They both needed some adjustments of pan used, salt, vanilla.  Now these recipes can provide you with your own cooking holiday from the things you usually make.  Here we go!

Jiffy Corn Muffin mix Crepes

About the skillet: I do not have a crepe making skillet so I first selected my omelet making pan which measures 6 inches across.  With melted butter in the pan, all my omelets have always come right out of the pan beautifully.  This skillet did not like my crepe batter.  I tried olive oil then canola oil spray and everything stuck.  I moved on to my 10 inch sautĂ© pan with a light spray of the canola oil, and everything was non stick sailing after that.  The pictures that follow are shown with this pan; you may need to do the same kind of experimenting.

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix (8.50oz (240g)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk

The first step is to combine all ingredients.  You may use a mixing bowl with beater, or a blender.  Batter needs to be very smooth.   Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. My batter sat for 2 days without harm.  When ready to cook, heat skillet, spray, use a 1/4 cup measure, pour batter  into pan and with your left hand use the handle to rotate the batter in the skillet.  When the bubbles have died down and you see the edges getting crisp, about 50 - 60 seconds, time to turn. - you can carefully use a spatula,  or lift the edges facing you with a knife, and pick up the crepe with your fingers and flip it over, cooking 10 - 20 seconds, remove and place on a wire rack.  Be sure to stir this batter each time.Continue until all batter is used - this will yield 15 - 20 crepes and will take you about 1 hour to make them.  After they cooled, I layered them between waxed papers, stored in a plastic freezer bag, labeled, and froze. (Not before I did some quality control tasting.)

Serving:  Crepes are a canvas for a galaxy of fillings and spreads, savory or sweet. These crepes and the recipe that follows are on the sweet side and are delicious with a dusting of powdered sugar and lemon juice, or,  a dollop of a good jam, chutney, lemon curd, and so on.  It is unlimited! Thaw at room temperature; heat in foil if desired.  A cold Corn Muffin crepe with a little fresh avocado and sour cream was the best as an appetizer!

Graham Cracker Crepe Batter

4 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers ( I used 1 package - 5.2 oz)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

I made this batter in a blender. Refrigerate one hour.  It also needs to be stirred before each crepe goes into the pan. Yield about 25 crepes.  It is just slightly sweet, wonderful with lemon juice and sugar. And I tried it with a little butter and peanut butter and a small piece of banana, most satisfactory.  Please do not feel discouraged if the first crepe or two are difficult to manage...You will get the hang of it, and soon, will be like you've done it all of your life.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dairy Queen For a Day

In my kitchen kingdom most dairy products are there to be used in specific baking recipes. Events of the day and one's time does intrude on some plans. Here I was this week with extra whole milk and Half and Half, and determined to use it before it went "off." Sauces and soups were written off because of poor freezing puddings or soufflés for just myself in the house, and so I turned to my silent servants for answers. They were very happy to leave their bookcase houses and be strewn happily on the table and floor and handled with loving care.

This is an activity I really love. With a hot cup of coffee at hand, sun streaming through the window, and the morning to do as I please, going through my cookbooks is pure pleasure. Occasionally ShahayCat is perched quite close on the arm of the chair though his new place is a narrow basket.

I looked up everything  could find on Ice Cream, the most probable thing to make, keeping in mind the heated discussions I have had with a doctor friend who specializes in ice cream but decries sugar, eggs and cream. (What kind of ice cream is t h a t?)

My answers came from Deborah Madison's "Local Flavors," with Honey Ice Cream - milk, sugar, egg yolks, light cream.  Done.  Delicious.

Next,  a discovery in a very old book for Blueberry Ice Cream. Very straightforward with a puree of cooked blueberries with sugar, and light cream. What, no blueberries? Not to worry with a big stash of blackberries in the freezer. Midway through the ice cream maker process I stepped off the kitchen curb again, and plopped more whole blackberries in, then juicy chunks of banana. (Once I made a really remarkable jam with things on hand that I called AAMB Jam - Apple, apricot, mango, banana.)

It is easy to get in a panic when you want to make a recipe and find you are lacking an ingredient or is easier to just think of something else to use and create your own glorious new food.  The more you cook, the more you will discover how rewarding this is.  I M A G I N A T I O N.