Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wartime Wednesday: Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping


Well, after a long hiatus, Wartime Wednesdays is back.

Each Wednesday, I'll showcase a recipe from The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book, a marvelous old tome filled with everything you could ever want to know about cooking, serving, and hostessing a dinner party. From table settings to cocktails, it's there.

This week I'm easing back into things with a rather simple breakfast food, the coffee cake.

There wasn't anything special about it, but it did it's job.

A very basic batter that nearly gave me a fit when it didn't seem to cover the bottom of the pan(?), topped with a crunchy coating made with breadcrumbs.

Well, as you can see, it rose wonderfully (thank you, baking powder), and the guys were very happy with it.

From Matt: "good breakfast food, not too sweet, tender, with a little crunchiness"

From Alex: "bit of sugar, sooo cinnamon-y, fun to eat, crunchy on the outside, tasty"

Tagged with: + + + Wartime +

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cookbook Review: Street Food


I have to start by saying that I was already a fan of Dorling Kindersley before I received a copy of their book, Street Food. We honeymooned in Ireland on one of their travel guides, and ever since I've found their books to the same: gorgeously photographed, concise, and easy to use.

Street Food is stamped from the same mold. Stunning photographs fill the pages...you find yourself hungry after nothing more than a quick browse.

But it's about more than looks. The author, Tom Kime, clearly did his research, sending himself on a whirlwind tour to find the best and tastiest 'street food' in some of the most interesting locals.

Traveling to places like Malta, Hue, Salvador de Bahia, and Marrakesh, he spent hours hitting food stand after food stand, often perplexing the proprietors who watched him as he worked his way down the rows of stalls.

As is our usual custom upon acquiring a new cookbook, both Matt & I went through the pages, affixing colored sticky tabs to the recipes we wanted to try.

Ok. Not every page has a yellow tab sticking to it. But that's simply because neither of us is much of a seafood lover.

But the rest of the book? Wow. Really, the only question was 'what to make first?'.

Not necessarily in the order we made them, here's what we've had so far.


This one got mixed reviews, but only because I found the dressing to be a bit sour. Matt, on the other hand, loved it, eating the entire thing.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, parsley, mint and toasted pita, with a sumac dressing. I think it was the sumac that turned me off, because otherwise, this simple salad is very much my kind of thing.

Queijo Na Brasa

Who doesn't love food on sticks?

This one couldn't help but be a winner. It's cheese. Slightly melted. On a stick!

The recipe called for Queijo de Coalho, a Brazilian cheese, but suggested Haloumi as a substitute. Worked perfectly. It's dressed with oregano and red pepper flakes. Nice.

Not much else to say. It's cheese!

Hummus Bil Erfeh Lahem

You may not think this looks like much, but then, you'd be wrong.

Ground lamb is cooked till crispy with a little bit of cinnamon, and piled on a dish of hummus. Again, no big, right?

Oh, no...this stuff is good. The smell alone makes you forget about the leftover pizza in the fridge, or the cookies in the cupboard. This is really good. And very easy to make.

Salada Fresca

This is our one disappointment. This lovely salad of avocados and tomatoes was to accompany a crispy bean fritter.

Well, the salad was just fine.

The bean fritter, Acaraje, was a disaster. Black-eyed peas, garlic, ginger and chilis were pureed, pan-fried, then dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil. This was were things went terribly wrong.

Instead of crunchy bean goodness, we had a frying pan full of bean puree. It simply wouldn't hold together.

The few small bits we salvaged were incredibly good. Unfortunately, the sum total of edible fritters came to about a 1/4 cup, maybe.

We liked the idea so much, though, that we tossed around the idea of adding an egg to the mix before frying, in hopes of binding the beans, in some future endeavor.

Chee Pow Kai

Now this? This was both weird and fun.

Chicken, marinated in soy sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, salt and star anise, is carefully enclosed in packets of parchment paper, and the bags are then briefly submerged in hot oil.

It's an almost-grease-less deep-fry.

And what you get?


So, we're 5 for 6, so far. But we're looking forward to testing out many, many more of Street Food's recipes.

Tagged with: + + + Street Food +

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pantry Raid: Brick Red Mole & Juice!


Doing my best to get back into food events not titled "Blogging by Mail" (!), I was happy to find a reason to force myself to play hunter/gatherer in my own kitchen.

For Leftover Tuesdays, hosted by Project Foodie, I dug out a large can of pineapple juice we bought for some occasion and never actually used. Cute swizzle stick really classes it up, doesn't it?

A habit we're getting into: roasting a couple of chicken breasts over the weekend in case that week's dinners don't produce leftover's for Matt to take to work. This juicy chicken, combined with...

a Rubbermaid container of Rick Bayless's Brick Red Mole, which had been sitting in the bottom of my chest freezer for well over a year, some chopped lettuce and tortillas we always have around, made for a filling, albeit spicy, dinner.

Brick Red Mole Chicken Tortillas

Tagged with: + + + + + +

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my...


Thai-Flavored Grilled Salmon Salad

Ever since Jeanne first announced the creation of "Waiter, there's something in my...", I've been keen to participate.

No, I really have. It may not look that way to you, as this is my first entry, ever. But I really truly have tried. Either I miss a deadline, or fall asleep on the couch in sheer exhaustion, or something else gets in the way.

I came across the announcement for the latest theme, Meatless BBQ, a bit late, but c'mon...Jeanne practically cutomized this one for me. We love to grill (and I love the way Matt smells after standing over hot coals!), and meat-free foods? Oh, I can do that.

We turned this foodie-challenge into Saturday night dinner, starting with Grilled Potatoes & Red Peppers, which were (post-flames) sprinkled with a Mexican cheese. Yum.

Nothing shocking or new here, but Grilled Fresh Corn? Perfect.

And Spicy Grilled Tofu, based on a Senalgese recipe (from Linda McCartney); chunks of tofu marinated in peanut butter, lemon juice, onion, red pepper, thyme, and bay leaf, then grilled.
Lightly spicy, with delicate crunch.

Oh, and the photo at the top? That's all Matt.

A gorgeous chunk of Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon, briefly marinated in olive oil, mint and red pepper, grilled to perfection!, then flaked over mixed greens and mung bean sprouts, dressed with a mix of lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, red pepper, dash of sugar, and mint.

So, Jeanne...I did it!

Tagged with: + + + + + +

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tea for Two, Me for You


I know it's a sort of stock-in-trade, for wives to complain about husbands, and husband go on about their nagging wives.

It's the basis of many a sitcom, rom-com (hate that term) and stand-up comedy act.

I have friends who can't complete a telephone call without listing the latest faults of their spouse.

But not me. No, you never hear me complain about Matt. And if you ask me why, I'll tell you: I got lucky.

Sure, I roll my eyes when I see the pile of dirty clothes he's collecting on the floor, not six inches from the hamper in our room.

I wonder, sometimes, how it is that our four year old son always remembers, without prompting, to put his dirty dishes in the sink, but not his dad.

I may utter something unfit for children's ears when I trip over the shoes he's kicked off in the middle of the living room floor.

Yes, all that happens. And I suppose I could make a big deal about it.

But I don't. Because, I got lucky.

See, I have a husband who checks the bathtub for spiders before I get in the shower.

Who gets up weekend mornings, and automatically makes me a cup of tea.

Who never forgets my birthday, or special anniversaries.

Who takes the time to make and hand-roll sushi for me, because the only good sushi restaurant in town closed down.

Who indulges my 'habit' of sending care packages to people all over the globe, and never complains about the cost.

Who, in collusion with Alex, buys me a fresh bouquet of flowers every week, just because they think I ought to have them.

Who knows that little things like putting a new gallon of water in the refrigerator at night, so I'll have something cold to drink in the morning, makes me happier than if he'd handed me a diamond necklace.

Who find the best gifts...from plump & gorgeous vanilla beans to a CSI field kit.

And because I married a guy who thinks it would be a wonderful idea to spend a vacation day taking his wife to a tea house.

Matt & I spent a lovely hour at Tea at the Gallery last week.

A very nice place, bright and open. Small tables, set simply with linens and silver(plated) pieces.

The walls were hung with 'art for sale'; we sat next to a large painting of a girl in a hat, with an asking price of $1900.00...!

There were only a few people there, but I quickly noted to Matt that he was only person there with the 'Y' chromosome.

We ordered the Signature Tea, and selected the Russian Caravan (dark coppery color; smoky aroma).

It was a wonderful tea, with a what I can only call an Asian-ness in it's final note.

And yes, I had the worst time taking pictures. Nicely lit place, just not for photography.

The service was as it should be. Our server was very prompt with ordering and delivery our food, but from there...pretty much left us alone. We were able to just sit and talk, drink and eat.
And from all the mom's out there, can I get a 'heck, yeah!'?

Our 'Signature' tea included small bowls of carrot-raisin salad (Matt noted it was very much like coleslaw), and little ham pinwheels (so I have no idea if they were good)

There were three flavors of finger sandwiches: ham, cheese, and spinach-artichoke. Didn't have the first (obviously), the second was simply orange cheese slices, but the veggie sandwich was quite good. And, I'm almost ashamed to admit, quite possibly the first time I've eaten artichokes.

(we ate around the raisin!)

We had a nice selection of sweets, as well...I know the girl rattled off the names of each, but I can't remember a single one.

Very nice tarts, very molasses-y.

I've no idea what this is. We noticed the coconut, and moved on.

Scones with clotted cream!!

This was another first for me. First time eating clotted cream (here with strawberry jam), and...

first time eating lemon curd. Very good, both.

There were also slices of poundcake, which refused to have it's picture taken.

It was a wonderful afternoon, talking over tea, no kids or dogs distracting us.

We bought some of the Russian Caravan to take home, and 'oohed' and 'ahhed' over all the fabulous tea pots for sale.

Of course, we then left the tranquility of the tea house for the heart-racing action of an afternoon matinee, The Bourne Ultimatum!

But as I said, I got a good one. No complaints from me....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sort of Saltimbocca


Neat idea, but not what we'd hoped for.

Prosciutto, fried in butter, topped with an egg, which cooks till desired doneness.

Get what they're going for, but Matt wasn't that crazy about it. Oh, well...

Tagged with: + + + + +

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blog Party#25: Minty Goodness---The Round-Up


Welcome to another Blog Party! We have lots of new faces here tonight, and I thank you all for coming to celebrate the wonder that is mint.

You've come up with all sorts of interesting ways to use that fragrant herb, but before we get on to the food, we have to set the mood.

I've loaded up the CD player tonight with a rather eclectic mix of tunes, and we're starting things off with Magnetism, by...Mint!

Next, we move on the Starlight Mints, with Drowaton...these guys are fun!

Finally, we spotlight the singer/songwriter with Mint, by Rachel Loshak.

Now, for those who just can't stand holding those small plates, I've set out these gorgeous Mint Chocolate pieces...that should hold a lot of food!

Very much adding to the party mood, I've placed these Mint Mojito candles all over the house! Mmmm...smells good.

And finally, because this is the South, we're fully stocked with these Mint Julep Cups!!

And now, we move on to the food!

Our first guest tonight is also a first-timer to Blog Party, so everyone be sure and say 'hello!' to Farid! He's also first in line with a lovely lamb dish, Algerian Mint & Lemon Marinated Kebabs with Salsa Tomatish...yum! I think you've keyed in on two of my husband's favorite ingredients, Farid...lamb & mint.
To drink, he's also brought a rather refreshing Algerian Lemonade with Mint & Lemon Zest Sugar...oh, can't wait to try that!
Farid, thank you so much for joining my little party; we're so thrilled you could come!

Next we have Sarah, also a new-comer to the Party, who tested out her minty wares on her neighbor before joining us. Sarah...welcome!
She's loaded up with this wonderful Minted Lamb Sliders with Mint & Cucumber Yogurt Topping; another perfect combination.
And keeping us from going thirsty on what is yet another hot night, Sarah's also got the fixin's for Mint, Cucumber & Lemon Gin & Tonics...that will definitely go over well with this crowd!
So happy you could join us tonight, Sarah!

I'm pleased as Planter's Punch that Dayna's here! Not only that, but she overcame her dislike of mint to join us tonight...thanks, Dayna.
And I know you'll be glad she did, when you try her Onion Bhaji with Spicy Mint Chutney. Sounds delicious!
And she'll keep you happy with her Mint Ginger Fizz, as well...that's my kind of cocktail!
Enjoy the party, Dayna!

Eva's back, and she's as overwhelmed with mint as we are at the moment! Happy to help, Eva.
Tonight, she's gone Middle Eastern, as seems only right, with these fabulous Chickpea, Aubergine & Pomegranate Fritters topped with Minty Quark. That may be a mouthful, but at least it's a tasty one!
Going perfectly with, Eva's also got Arabic Gin & Tonics...using mint syrup and pomegranate molasses. I love that stuff, too!
It's all great Eva, and thanks for coming!

Stanislas is back, and he is quickly becoming the drinks master here at Blog Party! Despite the language barrier (I don't speak a word of French, I'm afraid), he always gets his message across when it comes to food & drink.
Tonight's no exception, with his most beautiful Rhumalibu Fraise/Menthe. Ok, even I understood that!
Fantastic, as always, Stanislas; thanks for being here this evening!

J has returned, despite an always-busy schedule...I think she's as addicted to Blog Party as she is to table ware!
Either way, you'll be glad she's here when you see the minty bounty she's brought with her.
There's her Crab & Broad Bean Crostini...the name may not contain mint, but the recipe sure does!
But it's her Pea & Mint Soup that has me staring in wonder...that's one beautiful cuppa soup, J!
She's also brought dessert, which we'll all enjoy; Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches...no worries, I've got plenty of napkins!
And to finish it all off, a Minty Pimms; very English!
Always good to see you, J...and love the food!

And now it's my turn!

Starting things off with large quantities of Minted Limeade; made with mint syrup and lots & lots of lime juice, and served with fresh mint leaves. Very sweet, but really, really good.

Next, a Mint Salad; tiny plates of rough-chopped mint, mixed with watercress, and lightly drizzled with olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Topped with a plump raspberry and shavings of Parmesan.

Next, Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Mint Raita. Nothing new, perhaps, but there's a reason they call 'em classics!

Moving on, Moroccan Tea; green tea & mint & sugar. Simple, but satisfying.

And finally, Mint Meringues. Using minted sugar (if you click on the photo, you should be able to see the flecks of green in the cookies) in a basic meringue recipe, giving a faintly minty flavor to the crunchy treats.

Well, that does it! I again thank you all for being her tonight, and do hope you'll come back in September for our next party. I will be sending an email to each of you, giving you a 'sneak peak' at next month's theme, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare.

Ok, enjoy the rest of the evening. Eat lots of food, drink all you want (we have good taxi services here!), and talk with friends.

And I hope to see you all back in September!

Tagged with: + + + + + + + + + +

Friday, August 17, 2007

Resembling Paella


Right. It's just like Ina's recipe for Seafood Paella.

Except, where she used lobster, I used chicken (or Veat). She used chicken stock (home-made, no less), I used vegetable.

Her recipe calls for kielbasa. I used chorizo in Matt's, and Boca Italian 'sausages' for mine.

Ina adds a bit of her favorite flavor in the whole wide world, fennel aka licorice, in the form of Pernod. I used white wine.

Ina added peas to her dish. I...forgot!

But, if you ignore all that, it is very much the same recipe in that it resembles Paella.

Whatever it looks like, whatever went into it, it was awfully good. I know because it disappeared rather quickly from the refrigerator...

Tagged with: + + + + + +

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Potato-Chorizo Tacos with Simple Avocado Salsa


From Rick Bayless, and recommended by my in-laws.

Not too spicy, and absolutely filling.

Onions, potatoes, and chorizo (or 'soyrizo', in my case), cooked for a bit, then topped with a salsa of tomatillo, jalapeno, and avocado and served on warm tortillas.

Good stuff.

Last day to get those Minty Goodness entries in!!

Tagged with: + + + + + + + + + +

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Minty Goodness...Coming Soon!


Blog Party #25: Minty Goodness is coming this weekend...you have till Thursday to send in your mint-filled dishes.

And to get you in the mood, here's a shot of the mint extract I just put down. It won't be ready till Matt's birthday, but I know it'll be worth it.

Gorgeous, isn't it? And all the from the garden...

I do hope to see you Saturday!!

Tagged with: + + + + + + + + + +

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