Monday, June 22, 2009

Russian Tea Room Potato Salad


87.  When summer rolls around we get the taste for potato salad, grilled food, barbeque ribs and corn on the cob.  It just tastes like summer!  
My honey has the best potato salad recipe!  It comes from the "Russian Tea Room" Cookbook.  
We love this cookbook because it stirs up stories of my honey's job working at the Russian Tea Room many, many years ago.  He tells about the famous celebrities who would come in after events next door at the Carnegie Music Hall.  He boasts of the food...how every dish was delicious and so unique.  His favorite meal in the summer was "Piroshki" which were little baked meat-filled pies with sour cream dough.  And they always served it with cold "Borscht", which is beet soup.
I love how excited he gets talking about the different dishes.  The owner of the restaurant was Faith Stewart-Gordon.  He remembers her to be very stately and creative.  She would tailor make all of her clothing and it was impeccable.   Years ago the Russian Tea Room went out of business and the restaurant was vacant for several years.  We have heard that it has opened it's doors again.  My honey wants to go back someday to taste that delicious food once more.

Maybe that's why he fell in love with me!..This is the type of food I grew up with.  Borscht was a constant in our family meals and potatoes  or cabbage were served at just about every meal."  And I learned how to cook all of it.  Why does he need to go the the Russian Tea Room when he has "Lilly's Polish/Russian/German Tea Room" every day!

Anyway, you will enjoy this recipe and it is easy...with several steps involved.  The finished product is always worth the investment.

Potato Salad
Russian Tea Room Cookbook(pg 166)

6-8 medium potatoes (I use all types of potatoes, red skinned and yukon are my favorite)
⅔ cup mayonnaise
⅔ cup sour cream
1 Tblsp minced onion
1 Tblsp white vinegar or to taste
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
⅓ cup minced pimiento
2 Tblsp minced fresh parsley
(opt. 3 hard boiled eggs, chilled and cubed...our addition)

Boil the potatoes (in salted water) until just tender when pierced with the point of a knife.  Drain, and as soon as sufficiently cool to handle, peel and cut into small dice.  Turn the potatoes into a deep bowl.  While potatoes are cooking, make the dressing.  Combine mayonnaise and sour cream in a bowl and beat with a wire whisk until well mixed.  Add onion, vinegar lemon juice and mustard and blend throughly.  Add salt, but taste as you are adding it; the mayonnaise and mustard may be salty already.  Add pepper and pimiento and mix again.  Spoon over the potatoes and toss with a fork to coat them evenly.  Cover the bowl and chill until serving time.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve on salad greens.

I like to leave the skin on the red potatoes and mix the parsley in at the point of the pimiento.

So what will you make for dinner tonight?  Potato Salad perhaps?

"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon;
 to me those have always been
 the two most beautiful words in the English language."  
~Henry James

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grimaldi's Pizzeria


86.  Today is my beautiful daughter's 22nd Birthday.  So we celebrated by going to a delicious pizza restaurant, "Grimaldi's Pizzeria".  The original restaurant is in Brooklyn. But we went to  Grimaldi's in Garden City, NY My daughter told me it was like no other pizza I've ever had.  She was so right!   The crust is so thin but so tasty and the sauce is bright with garlic and slightly sweet.
We first enjoyed an appetizer of Spinach Artichoke Dip with Chips.  It was hot and cheesy.
Then we ordered our pizza, half eggplant, half pesto sauce, and one personal plain cheese pizza for Maggie. While we munched on our chips and yummy dip, our pizza arrived!  We were surprise at how quickly it came...and we dug in right away!  Wow!  It was delicious!   But as we were munching we realized, there is more than just pesto and eggplant, there was mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and so much cheese with whole basil.
Our waitress came over to our table and said, "I am so sorry, we brought you the wrong pizza...this pizza was for another table."  And then we all commented..."We were wondering why there were so many more toppings."  Then the waitress went to grab the tray and her boss called her back to the side.  She came back to our table and said, "We made a mistake and we apologize,  your pizza is on its way and you can keep the wrong pizza too."  And then she leaned in close and said, "you guys don't realize all the extra toppings that are on this pizza!"  We then received the pizza we ordered...ahhh...so much pizza!  But it was so wonderful!  And the best part, they didn't charge us for the mistake!  I told Emily it was because it was her Birthday!  Thanks Grimaldi's!  If you are ever in Brooklyn, by the bridge, look for Grimaldi's...you will experience a fantastic pizza!
'Tis not the meat, 
but 'tis the appetite makes eating a delight. 
 ~John Suckling

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old German Rose Water Cookies


85.  While visiting through "Blog-Land" I found a lovely site "A Southern Daydreamer".  Susan has a beautiful blog that is filled with a variety of ideas, places to visit and beautiful pictures to enjoy!  I especially enjoyed her post, "Pink Saturday".  She featured her beautiful rose bushes, which reminded me of my grandmothers roses.  Growing up next door to my paternal grandparents was a joy.  My grandmother loved to garden and had beautiful rose bushes of many colors.  The one I particularly loved the most was her pink cabbage rose bush.  It was the most beautiful color of pink and each flower was loaded with petals, so many petals that you could not see the yellow center.  And the scent was intoxicating. Years ago, most people did not prune roses in neat square or round bushes...they allowed them to grow naturally.  This particular rose bush was huge and was intertwined with another light, whitish-pink rose.  It grew to about 7 feet high and then cascaded down growing along the ground.  It was a natural wall separating our properties but it also created a tunnel...a tunnel that I loved to climb into!  I would spread a blanket under the roses and play with my dolls, hide, play "Rose Princess", or just escape into the beauty.  I would take a rose and pull every petal off making a silky pile of pink and then scoop them up and breath in the wonderful scent.  I have been hard pressed to find a rose similar to my grandmother's rose.  Susan's rose bush is the closest I have found.

To stay with the theme "Outdoor Wednesday" I took a few pictures of roses in my backyard and in theme, baked Old German Rose Water Cookies.
Old German Rose Water Cookies
1 cup sugar
½ sup butter
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp lemon extract
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ tsp rose water
3 cups flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325º.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add yolk and flavorings.  Add baking soda & sour cream blending together.  Add rose water, flour and salt and stir together till dough forms.  
You do not have to chill this dough but can use it immediately.  Roll onto a lightly floured surface and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.   
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 10 minutes or till lightly browned on the bottom. 
 It is your preference if you want the cookies crispy or soft.  I baked them at 330º for 8 minutes.  They turned out perfect.  I prepared a simple icing using Rose Water for the liquid and a few drops of red food coloring for a perfect pink color.  The cookies are so
 delicious...the lemon and rose water taste just blooms in your mouth.  They are soft, delectable! (Maggie's description!) and we can't stop eating them...
I found rose water in Chelsea Market, NY, in a fabulous Italian shoppe,
 "Zia Tonia".  


"A profusion of pink roses
 bending ragged in the rain 
speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring."  
 ~The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams

Orange Sour Cream Cake


84.  I love to bake bundt cakes and really get excited when I find a new baking tool or bundt pan in my travels. Some people refer to this pan as a "tube" pan.   My most favorite pan is the one I picked up in a yard sale for $1.00 while vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin.  Our dear friends, Chris and Al, invited us to join them many years ago, to spend some "R&R" time with their family.  Our oldest daughter was 3 years old, (She'll be 22 this week!).  We stayed in a little cabin next to the water, battled with a mouse who came to visit us each night, picked cherries that were in season at the time and made wild flower wreaths to sell in our craft shop when we returned home.

During a walk, the one day, we passed a yard sale with items laid on blankets and odd tables and chairs...and that's when I purchased my bundt pan.  It brings back these memories each time I use it!

So, today, I am making an Orange Sour Cream Cake recipe, which turned out moist and very flavorful!  I added walnuts to the batter as well.  I found this recipe on the "eating out loud" Blog.   

Orange Sour Cream Cake 
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh orange zest & ½ cup ground walnuts

Orange Icing
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. zest
2-3 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 350, prepare pans by greasing them and dusting with flour.

Cream together the sugar and butter. Slowly add the sour cream, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, and mix till smooth. Add orange juice and zest, mix to combine. Place into a greased and floured "bundt" or "tube" pan. Bake for about 1 hour or until cake tests done. If baking in 2 pans, bake for about 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done.

Allow cake to rest 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Let cake cool completely before drizzling Orange Icing over.

It is delightful with a cup of coffee or tea!  

"Don't wait for people to be friendly, show them how. " ~Author Unknown

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tortilla



83.  You know, those plastic bags filled with tortillas that you purchase in the grocery store.  Perfectly shaped rounds in a stack...how old are they???  Hard to say.  Even the date of expiration is hard to find on the package.  We've all purchased them, simply because they are the only tortilla's available.  Unless you live near a bakery or shop that makes them fresh daily.

Many years ago, I met a lovely friend, Bonnie, who was from Mexico.  We became fast friends because we shared a love of coffee, food and laughter.  Bonnie was a wonderful cook!  I talked her into showing me how to make tortillas and she was so gracious to share her mom's recipe.  We got together and prepared a mexican meal with all the trimmings.  Wow...what a feast!  

I still use her tortilla recipe to this day.  It is perfect every time.  They taste so delicious!

Homemade Tortilla

2¼ cups flour
¼ cup shortening (Crisco)
1 tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup warm water
flour

Place flour in a bowl and cut in shortening till crumbly.  Add salt and baking powder and stir.  Pour in warm water and mix till mixture forms into a soft dough.  Add more flour if necessary and work dough till it is no longer sticky and comes away from your hands.  Place plastic wrap over the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.  
Heat a cast iron pan and brush is lightly with oil to season.  
After dough has rested, break off a small golf ball size ball of dough
 and roll it in your hands and flatten.  With a generous amount of flour, begin to roll the dough in one direction, turning it and flipping it till the desired size.  Place immediately in the hot cast iron pan. The dough will begin to bubble and brown, approximately 2 or so minutes.  Flip the dough and allow the opposite side to brown and then remove to a heated plate.  Continue with the remaining dough.  
Tortillas are best eaten the same day they are made.  Next day the tortillas will have gummier texture but are still edible.

"Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things."  
~Author Unknown

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pizza on the Grill


82.  "Pizza on the Grill!!!!  You can't make pizza on the grill!"  That's what a friend of mine told me the other day.  I dare to differ.  Yes, you can make pizza on the grill.  It is quick, easy, delicious and anyone can do it!

While watching Food Network the other evening, we caught the end of a segment of pizza made on the grill.   I have been wanting to do this for quite a while.  Here is my recipe:

Pizza on the Grill

1 recipe of pizza dough (my recipe here)
Divide the dough into four, six or eight pieces.  flatten dough in your hands using flour to keep dough from sticking to hands.
Place on a baking sheet.
Heat up your grill outside and set it to high.  Brush the dough rounds with olive oil.
Place dough rounds on hot grill and close the lid.  
Wait for two (2) minutes, then check to see if they are toasted.Every grill is different so work with your grill.  When they toast, flip the dough over to the other side and grill for one (1) more minute.  Remove the toasted pizza crust back to the baking sheet, toasted side up. 

Pizza Toppings

Broccoli Cheddar Pizza:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped small
2 Tblsps onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
red pepper flakes
4 Tblsp ranch dressing

On the toasted side of the crust, spread ranch dressing, red pepper flakes, sprinkle broccoli over, onion and garlic salt.  Then, top with cheddar cheese.

Grilled Chicken & Red Pepper Pizza:
2 chicken breasts, cut into long strips
1 large red sweet pepper, cut into large strips
red onion slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic salt
red pepper flakes
fresh basil leaves
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tblsp parmesan cheese
salt/pepper
balsamic vinegar

On toasted side of crust, spread mozzarella cheese,
 red onion, sprinkle with garlic salt and red pepper flakes.  
Place seasoned chicken and red peppers, brushed with olive oil, on a hot grill till toasted and cooked through. 
 Remove to a plate and cut into small chunks.  Stir together with minced garlic and salt and pepper.  Place on next, dividing up between the pizzas.  In a small bowl mix the ricotta cheese, parm cheese and salt and pepper.  Chop up a little fresh basil and mix in with the ricotta cheese.  Then dollop over the chicken and peppers.  Season lightly.
After you decide on your topping, place the baking sheet onto the grill.  Turn the grill to low and close the lid.  It will take approximately 5 minutes to melt the cheese and finish baking the crust.  
Remove the pan from the grill and serve immediately.
Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Pizza
or Grilled Chicken and Red Pepper Pizza.  Ohhh it's Sooo Goood!

You can do this...try any topping you like and experiment!

"If you can't feed a hundred people,
feed just one."  
 ~  Mother Teresa

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mustard Marinade Chicken Kabobs


81.  What do you do when you have a jar of mustard that is just about empty? Make a marinade is the correct answer.

Mustard Marinade Chicken Kabobs

1 "almost empty" mustard jar, Dijon preferably
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 Tblsp chives, dried or chopped fresh
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp Tarragon flakes
1 tsp garlic salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ water

Place all ingredients in the "almost empty" mustard jar.  Shake the jar till everything is incorporated.  
Place 4 chicken breasts in a container.  Pour the marinade over the chicken.  Allow the chicken to marinade for approximately 4 hours.  
6 small wooden skewers
water
Place the wooden skewers in a container of water and allow them to soak for 10 minutes.
This will help the wood not to catch fire and burn away when grilling.
Cut the chicken into chunks and mix the marinade to cover the chicken.
Then place the chicken chunks on the wet wooden skewers.
Place on a hot grill.  Turn 3 times marinating the chicken with the remaining marinade.
Serve with rice and vegetable, or as an appetizer.



Don't find fault.  Find a remedy.  
~Henry Ford

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