The other evening I wanted a sauce to go on some leftover meatloaf. But I wanted to fancy the meatloaf up a bit, without going to too much trouble. So I went on-line looking for a sauce/gravy recipe that included dried mushrooms. (I love to use dried mushrooms.) I came upon this recipe from Epicurious and knew I had found the new love of my life! The ingredients were perfect, so I cut the recipe in half and proceeded to the stove.

Well, I have to tell you, this is one of the best sauces I have ever tasted, and it’s darned easy to make. I changed the preparation instructions quite a bit, and eliminated 1 ingredient, but this is an Epicurious recipe at its finest.

So if you ever want a delightful sauce to enhance a piece of roast beef, ground beef pattie, or simple meatloaf, I would recommend you give this a try.

And for those of you who love sauces, make a double batch. I cut the recipe in half because I only had a small bit of meatloaf that needed a little “something”. Next time I will double the recipe even if I have to eat it on toast the next morning. It is simply that good! Thank you Epicurious

  • ¾ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, broken up (about 3/4 cup loosely packed pieces)
  • ½ c. warm water
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ c. sweet Marsala (and yes, Marsala comes in sweet and dry)
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • ½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • ½ T. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ T. flour

Combine dried mushroom pieces and water in a bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Strain and squeeze the mushrooms reserving the water. Place re-hydrated mushrooms in another bowl. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil to medium in a large heavy pan. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent and thoroughly cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the Marsala and white wine. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is evaporated. Add the rosemary, mushrooms, mushroom liquid (don’t use the sediment), and the beef stock. Simmer until only about a cup remains, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a table fork, mush the butter and flour together. When the sauce is reduced, whisk the beurre manié into the liquid and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Note: Beurre manié is merely a fancy sounding name for a mixture which means “kneaded butter” in French. When equal parts butter and flour are combined, beurre manié is one of the best ways to thicken a sauce, gravy, or soup.


I love raspberries. In fact they are my favorite berry. Although, strawberries and blackberries both run a close second!) So when I saw fresh raspberries for sale at our local farmer’s market this past Monday, I just had to buy a 4 pint box. And since I needed to build a light dessert for our 4th of July celebration with good friends Ken and Christine, I decided to try out this recipe from my favorite magazine – Cooking Light. Well it turns out Ken is a raspberry lover too. Actually we all are, but Ken gets just about as excited about raspberries as Scooby Doo does when given a Scooby snack. It’s really quite fun to watch. (Sorry Ken, but if you can’t rat on your good friends, who can you rat on?)

Anyway, this sauce over vanilla ice cream was a total success. What made the dessert course even more delicious; Ken had made a blackberry cobbler. OMG – we were all in berry heaven until we couldn’t look at another berry, much less take another bite. What a fun way to spend the 4th of July. Watching fireworks from our good friend’s deck (west side of Camano) and eating raspberries and blackberries with shear abandon. Good times my friends, good times! Thanks again K & C for another wonderful evening together.

Please don’t take my word that this is the best raspberry sauce you will ever taste. Make it for yourself. If you end up disagreeing with me, shoot me an email. I’ll take your thoughts into consideration, promptly dismiss them, and proceed directly to the kitchen to build myself yet another batch of this amazing berry sauce. Yay raspberries!

p.s. If you want to take this whole raspberry sauce over ice cream to an even higher level, after you scoop ice cream into individual bowls, pour on some warmed Dark Chocolate Raspberry Sauce (recipe below) and then spoon on as much of this raspberry sauce as the bowl will allow.  

  • 2 pints (4 cups) fresh raspberries, divided
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 T. raspberry liqueur (Chambord, Framboise)
  • ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine 1 pint of the raspberries and sugar in a food processor; process until pureed. Press mixture through a fine sieve over a medium bowl; discard solids. Stir in remaining 2 cups of raspberries, raspberry liqueur, and lemon juice. Cover and chill. Wonderful over vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or angel food cake. Watch for my recipe for Chocolate Angel Food Cake in the near future.


  • ¾ c. premium cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli Majestic Premium Cocoa Powder purchased at Cash & Carry)
  • 6 T. sugar
  • tiny pinch kosher salt
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. raspberry liqueur or water

Whisk cocoa, sugar, and salt together in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently whisk in the water. Slowly bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and raspberry liqueur or water. Serve warm or allow to cool completely and store in the refrigerator. Warm before pouring on ice cream. 





Sometimes dishes get served before I have a chance to take a picture. That’s exactly what happened at a recent pre-concert JazzVox meal. Before I could take a picture of these meatballs based on a recipe from the Juicy Bites website and the tzatziki sauce (my recipe from about 25 years ago), they were history.

So the next time I serve this delicious combination, I will take a picture. But for now you will just have to content yourself with a mental image of light colored baked meatballs, smothered with a white sauce with green things in it, aka – tzatziki.

Now most of you know that I love chicken and serve it a lot. But chicken can be a bit boring. Well I’m here to tell you, there is nothing boring about these meatballs. The mint and the dill give the dish a unique flavor, and when slathered with tzatziki, well frankly, there is just nothing finer. (Actually, I think dog kibbles would taste good if they were slathered in tzatziki. But I’m not going to stand behind those words; just offer them up as a lazy summer afternoon rumination.)

So next time you want to serve ground chicken or turkey (I use ground turkey as much as I use ground chicken), give this recipe a try. Serve the meatballs and tzatziki with a savory pilaf, a crunchy Greek Salad, and a beautifully chilled bottle of white wine, and you will have captured the wonderful flavors and essence of Greek dining. Huh? Maybe Greece should be our next overseas adventure. Time to buy a couple travel books and see if Greece meets our criteria as a perfect travel destination. We love to visit countries with an ancient culture, beautiful art and architecture, interesting museums, pleasing climate, fun and friendly people, and of course – fantastic food. Wait! I don’t need a travel guide to tell me that Greece would be perfect for us. I already know all of our travel desires would be met in Greece. So, time to make a plan and present it to Mr. C. I know, I’ll serve up my idea along with a meal as described above, and I’ll bet you he’ll be searching our calendar for dates within an hour. Wish me luck! And enjoy the meatballs.

At the bottom of the post you will find 2 pictures of our orange cat Miles. The first picture shows Miles sound asleep on our catwalk. No problem, right? Wrong! The second picture shows why his sleeping at the end of the catwalk is of concern. It’s 9 feet down if our little darling were to fall. And since that part of the catwalk is above the bottom of the stairway, there is no way for either of us to fetch him. And no, when I designed our home Max and Miles were not even a glimmer in their papa’s eyes. We had another pair of orange brothers who were very coordinated and we never worried about them falling.

A little background. Miles and his brother Max are two of the least coordinated and skittish cats we have ever had the pleasure of owning. They can fall off the back of a couch and land on their backs at the slightest movement that might be threatening, like Mr. C. turning a page in his book, or me walking by with a glass in my hand. So the thought of either one of the brothers being startled awake while on the catwalk and reacting quickly to a perceived threat always scares the pickles out of me. And since I’m sure you want to know, Miles survived his nap and my heartrate is back to normal.

  • ½ c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ¼ c. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ c. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican preferably)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey

Pour the milk over the panko bread crumbs in a large bowl and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, mint, dill, oregano, salt, pepper, eggs, olive oil, and lemon zest and juice. Mix together with a fork until well blended. (I use the large serving fork that came with my silverware set. Works great!) Add the ground chicken and stir with the same fork until just blended. (Do not overwork the meat.)

Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the balls and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until just done. (Do not overbake or the meatballs will be dry.) Serve with tzatziki sauce. Recipe below.


  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 c. plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 small or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1½ tsp. chopped fresh dill or ½ tsp. dill weed
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber, partially peeled, seeded, and grated

Combine all ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garlic trick:

If you are using fresh garlic in a recipe, but would like to reduce a bit of the “garlic bite”, place the peeled garlic cloves in a small bowl and cover with milk. Warm the cloves in your microwave, but do not cook them. Then remove the cloves from the milk and slice or mince according to your recipe. You will find that the flavor is still there, but the bite has mysteriously disappeared.




There is just something about a homemade cake. And I don’t really care if it’s chocolate, carrot, apple, etc. as long as it’s moist and delicious. And that goes for the savory varieties of cakes also.

To my mind, there is nothing worse than a crab or salmon cake that has the consistency and look of particle board that has gotten wet! Now granted, I have never tasted wet particle board, but I have an active imagination. And what my imagination tells me is that wet particle board tastes a lot like a poorly prepared crab or salmon cake! (If any of you have firsthand knowledge on this subject, please don’t hesitate to correct me if I’m wrong.)

Anyway, what I am trying to say in my own indomitable way, is that these salmon cakes are not dry. They are delightfully tender, moist, and juicy. They are also very easy to build, especially if you use planned over salmon, which it what I usually use when I make these cakes. I look for salmon on sale, then buy 2 pounds rather than just one. Then I cook both pounds setting one pound aside to use within the next couple of days. Then with my planned over salmon I either prepare this dish or one of a handful of other dishes like Salmon Caesar Salad or Salmon, Bacon, and Corn Chowder. (Both recipes can be found on this site.)

One additional detail I should really mention before I shut up so that you can go to the store and buy the ingredients to make these little darlings for dinner. These salmon cakes are absolutely delicious. (I know, you probably already ascertained that little detail since I posted the recipe in the first place.) But I still felt it was obligatory to state the obvious. (A little compulsion left over from my days in human resources. “Miss Smith, you were applying for “work” when you came to us for employment. So now, please just sit down and do the job for which you were hired.”) I loved my job! But back to salmon.

So keeping in mind that salmon is a good source of niacin, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B6, choline, pantothenic acid, biotin, and potassium, make up a batch of these tender and delicious salmon cakes at your earliest convenience. They truly are a salmon lover’s delight. You might even be surprised if one of your family members, who professes to hate salmon, suddenly becomes a huge fan. It has happened before and it can happen again. Enjoy

  • 2 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 T. finely chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ c. finely diced celery
  • 2 T. finely minced shallot or green onion
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp. hot sauce (I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce)
  • 1½ tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T. capers, drained
  • 10 finely crushed unsalted or low salt saltine crackers (I use the kind with no additional salt on the top)
  • 1 lb. cooked salmon, flaked
  • ¾ c. Panko bread crumbs, or more as needed

In a large frying pan, bring 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the red pepper, celery, and shallot; sauté for about 4 minutes or just until the veggies are starting to soften. Take pan off heat, remove the veggies with a slotted spoon, and set veggies aside to cool. (Don’t wash the pan. You are going to be frying the salmon cakes in this same pan.)

Meanwhile lightly beat the egg in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, parsley, and capers. Stir in the finely crushed saltines, the cooled vegetables, and the salmon. Form the mixture into 8-10 small flat cakes. (Will be messy!)  Coat each cake with Panko and place on a wax paper lined plate*. Cover and  refrigerate for at least 2 hours before frying. When ready to cook, heat the remaining butter and olive oil in the reserved fry pan. Fry cakes over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. (About 4 minutes per side.)


If you enjoy a sauce with your salmon cakes, may I recommend Old Bay Aioli. (See recipe below.)

*I use my 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop, drop the balls in a small bowl filled with the Panko crumbs, roll the balls around in the Panko, and then place the coated balls on a wax paper lined platter. Flatten each ball slightly with your hand.


  • ½ c. light mayonnaise (I use Best Foods Light Mayonnaise)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp. sriracha
  • 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • kosher salt to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, granulated garlic, sriracha, lemon juice, Old Bay Seasoning, and pepper. Add salt if needed.





Yesterday I posted my recipe for Spicy Plum Crunch, and tomorrow I plan on posting my recipe for Spicy Plum Freezer Jam. I’m calling this 3 recipe mini-series starring fresh plums “Plum Crazy”.

This is actually the first recipe I made using the plums we received from our dear friends Mark and Vicki. Their plum tree limbs were literally dripping with plums and Vicki had already used as many as she could. So when they offered to send us home with a bunch, we jumped at the chance. Especially since all morning we had been scarfing down Vicki’s delicious Prune Relish and savoring every bite. So of course I had to have the recipe and then of course I had to change it a wee bit. With her approval of course! I thought just a small amount of dried fig would be a nice addition and that the resulting concoction would be more like a chutney than a relish. And in creating a “chutney”, I could achieve one of my own culinary goals.

I think in one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I had never been able to produce a decent chutney. And even though the recipe Vicki gave me calls itself a “relish”, I theorized that by adding just a little bit of fig, it would not only add an additional depth of flavor, I could then allow myself to label it a ”chutney”. And truly, I can’t think of a better condiment to go with a spicy curry than this exceptional combination of ingredients. And of course there was the added benefit that now I could legitimately cross “chutney” off my “culinary no can do” list. (Remember: It’s really just all about me!)

So if you too are a chutney lover, this is the recipe for you. It’s very easy to prepare and costs a fraction of what those small 9-ounce bottles of good chutney cost in the grocery store. And truly, if you don’t give this recipe a try, you’re plum crazy! (And I don’t mean that in a good way!)

  • 4 c. chopped fresh plums or prunes
  • ½ c. chopped dried figs
  • 2 sweet onions, rough chopped
  • 2 c. apple cider vinegar (I use organic unfiltered cider vinegar)
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. ground cloves
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • 4 c. sugar

Place the plums, figs, and onion in the bowl of your food processor. Whirl until everything is smooth or to your own desired consistency. Pour into a heavy pan. Add the vinegar, salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, dry mustard, and sugar. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat, and simmer for an hour. Stir periodically. Remove from heat and allow to cool before placing in 5-6 pint size freezer containers*. Attach lids and let sit overnight before placing in your freezer. (Don’t even think of trying the chutney for at least 2 weeks.)

Wonderful as a topping on mild creamy cheese frosted crackers. (Think chèvre.) Lovely on baked Brie lightly garnished with toasted pecans or walnuts. (See my recipe for Baked Brie with Curry Powder, Chutney, and Toasted Pecans under the title “Two Brie, or Not Two Brie: That is the Question”. And of course, great as an accompaniment to any curry dish. (See my recipes for Chicken, Shrimp, or Roasted Vegetables in a Curry Masala Sauce and Curry Sauce for Chicken, Shrimp, Beef, or Lamb.)

*If you prefer, the hot chutney can be stored in prepared canning jars.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my estimation lamb is under-utilized. And I believe one of the reasons is that a lot of parents with young children think their children won’t like the taste. Well, I beg to differ. When my children were growing up, a leg of lamb was one protein source I knew would be devoured right down to the bone. And I mean this literally. (I’m pretty sure they would have gnawed on the bone if I would have let them!) They truly loved it. And really, what’s not to love? A nice bone-in piece of meat with slits all over the surface stuffed with slivered garlic and fresh rosemary. Then liberally slathered with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and baked to a medium rare. What person of any age could resist this delicacy?

Now granted, lamb isn’t cheap. But because it’s so lean, it doesn’t shrink as much as beef either.

So attached is a recipe for ground lamb that has tons of flavor and is a good way to introduce your family to the joy that is lamb. (Of course, even if your family are already lamby pie lovers, you can fix this recipe. The flavor just won’t be as much of a pleasant surprise.) I take that back. Because of all the herbs and spices, the flavor is still going to be a pleasant surprise! So regardless of your families’ level of culinary acquaintance with baby sheep, fix this quick and easy recipe while it is still BBQing season. You won’t be sorry.

And for all you parents out there introducing your children to lamb for the first time, at least you won’t have to explain that the lamb on the table absolutely did not come from Shari Lewis’s puppet Lambchop! True story! Thanks for the memories kids. Love you mucho!

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 T. finely chopped red onion
  • 1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T. dry sherry
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. ground lamb, room temperature

Combine the garlic, onion, cilantro, dry sherry, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, allspice, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Add the ground lamb and gently combine with the other ingredients. Don’t overwork the meat. Divide into 3 or 4 patties. While you are forming the patties don’t over press the meat together; just work enough so that the meat retains its shape and doesn’t fall through the grill while it is cooking. (Not good form and you will lose points if the patties fall apart on the grill!)

Place the patties on a medium hot grill and do not overcook. A little red in the middle is perfect. Let rest for 3-4 minutes before serving. Serve with Tzatziki (recipe below). Also great with Cucumbers with a Yogurt, Feta, and Dill Dressing.


  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 c. plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 small or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. dill weed
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber, partially peeled, seeded, and grated

Combine all ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.



If I were to describe myself culinarily in just one word, it would have to be “saucy”. Now please don’t misunderstand the term “saucy” as it relates to my personality! (Granted I can be a bit cheeky, irreverent, disrespectful, bold, and even brazen – all synonyms for saucy BTW.) But in this case, I mean “saucy” as it relates to my love for all thick liquids or accompaniments served with food to add moistness and flavor, i.e. sauces, gravies, aiolis, relishes, salsas, condiments, dips, dressings, etc. etc.

As proof, after our last JazzVox home concert featuring the fabulous vocalist Cindy Scott and the amazing jazz guitarist Brian Seeger, Mr. C., Nich (Mr. JazzVox himself), Cindy, Brian , and I were sitting around eating leftovers, drinking wine, beer, and other adult beverages, the conversation turned to all of our shared love of food. (Well of course it did!) And since both Cindy and Brian live in New Orleans, and I just happen to love Creole and Cajun food as much as they do, we discussed restaurants, favorite dishes, cookbooks that I absolutely needed to own, and other things related to the culinary wonder that is New Orleans. And Brian happened to mention rémoulade as one of his favorite things to serve on anything seafood. I guess my eyes must have glazed over from just the thought of a new sauce for seafood, because a couple of days later when Brian and Cindy were safely back in the Big Easy, Brian sent me his favorite rémoulade recipe. The recipe was the brainchild of John Folse, a famous Louisiana chef, restaurateur, and leading authority on Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Now I have to tell you, John’s recipe produced one of the best sauces I have ever tasted. I served it along with boiled shrimp last Saturday night to our cooking club and they agreed it was amazing.

So if you want to make a sauce to serve with boiled shrimp, crab cakes, grilled scallops, fried oysters, or any fried fish, do not hesitate to give this recipe a try. It is simply over-the-top delicious.

And if you want to think of me in the more traditional way “saucy” ladies are thought of, that’s OK too! This 71 year old lady can handle it. Of course I can’t fulfill the expectations associated with “saucy” any longer, but I have my memories. Love and happy cooking to all.

  • ¾ c. mayonnaise
  • ¼ c. Creole whole grain mustard (Zatarain’s is perfect)
  • ¼ c. ketchup
  • 1½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • ¼ c. finely diced green onions
  • 2 T. finely diced celery
  • 1 T. finely minced garlic
  • 2 T. finely chopped parsley
  • ¾ tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the above ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight or at the least four hours. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and adjust seasonings to taste.



So OK, most of you already know that roasted veggies are the greatest culinary breakthrough since polenta was introduced into mainstream American cooking. And of course, unless you happen to be from another planet, you also know that veggies when roasted are as universally revered as Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale! It’s just an accepted culinary fact. (Not that Boris and Natasha are edible, you realize. But you must admit they are about as delectable as your favorite apple pie!)

But if you happen to be one of the few who are unfortunate enough to have no experience with roasted veggies, have I got a treat for you! Even if you do know roasted veggies as well as you know your mailman or milkman (no implication of wrong doing intended) this Lemon Garlic Aioli recipe from Melissa Clark will lift even the already magnificent roasted veggie to a new high!

And for being an aioli that you make from scratch rather than starting with a mayonnaise base, it is really quick and easy to prepare. Plus you can make it up to three days in advance. Wee ha……

So I guess the only thing left to say is that I hope you give this recipe a try the next time you roast veggies. I love to serve this dish as an appetizer, but it would work just as well as a veggie side dish.

But wait – there is one other small little thing I should warn you about before I send you off to the kitchen to warm up your blender. This aioli is so amazing, that people have been known to take one bite, throw back their head, and howl in delight. They have also been known to sputter OMG three times in a row. If either response happens, do not be too concerned. They will soon recover and return to their natural apathetic selves as soon as their equilibrium returns.

Aioli Ingredients:

  • 1-2 garlic cloves (I use 1 medium)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice or more to taste
  • ⅛ tsp. fine sea salt or more to taste
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 lg. egg yolk, room temperature
  • ¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Suggested Veggies Ideal for Roasting:

  • beets, (any color) peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • romanesco, cut into bite-sized florets
  • broccoli, cut into florets and the stems (after they have been peeled), cut into bite-size pieces
  • cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • sweet potato, peeled, halved, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • eggplant, cut into 1-inch squares
  • red, orange, or yellow peppers, cut into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • broccoli rabe/rapini, cut into even sized portions, leaves and stems still attached (no need to peel the stems)
  • whole button mushrooms or large slices of portabella mushrooms
  • zucchini or other summer squashes, cut in half lengthwise and then into 3/4-inch long pieces
  • pea pods

Aioli Directions:

Grate the garlic clove(s) directly into your blender or food processor. Add lemon juice and salt; let sit for a couple of minutes. Add eggs and blend until combined. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.


Roasted Veggie Directions:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Place vegetables on rimmed baking sheets according to how long each needs to bake. (See chart below)

(Veggies with about the same baking time can be placed on the same sheet. I tend to keep each variety separate so I can remove the veggies individually if necessary and keep them separate for plating.) Drizzle all the veggies with just enough olive oil to moisten, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (You don’t want too much olive oil or your veggies will taste greasy.)

Roast in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for the time reflected below or until they are fork tender. Turn the veggies periodically while they are roasting. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Arrange on platter and serve with the aioli on the side.

Approximate Roasting Time for Veggies: (watch the veggies carefully because every oven and veggie is different)

  • beets – 40 to 50 minutes
  • petite carrots – 40 to 50 minutes
  • romanesco – 20 to 30 minutes
  • broccoli – 20 to 30 minutes
  • cauliflower – 20 to 30 minutes
  • sweet potato – 20 to 30 minutes
  • eggplant – 20 to 30 minutes
  • red, orange, or yellow peppers – 15 to 20 minutes
  • broccoli rabe/rapini – 15 to 20 minutes
  • whole button mushrooms or large slices of portabella mushrooms – 15 to 20 minutes
  • zucchini or other summer squashes – 15 to 20 minutes
  • peapods – 15 to 20 minutes





“Sensible shortcuts” is the way Mr. C refers to my recipes for the magnificent 5 classical French mother sauces. This statement came the day after we had watched the charming movie “The 100 Foot Journey” starring Helen Mirren. On the way home from the movie Mr. C had asked me all about these sauces. I knew for sure about Béchamel, Velouté, and Hollandaise, but I was unsure of the other two, although, as it turns out, I have been making all 5 of these sauces most of my adult life. Of course the way I prepare each sauce is not exactly the way they are prepared by a Michelin 3 star chef! You think! (And yes, I did read up on how to prepare these sauces in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) As it turns out, my recipes are certainly close to how the masters prepare their sauces, but mine are easier. And since I have never really tasted the “real thing”, I find mine an acceptable substitute. (Well of course I do!)

But I do know how to use each of these mothers (sauces that is), and really, isn’t that the important thing! And I’m sure after you read the recipes for these 5 classics you will realize you have been making your own version of these recipes for years too. Every time you make a white sauce, you are making the French classic Béchamel Sauce. Each time you start a spaghetti sauce, you are making a version of the French classic Sauce Tomate. And good old fashioned chicken or beef gravy; your take on Velouté Sauce (chicken sauce/gravy) and Espagnole Sauce (beef sauce/gravy). And Hollandaise Sauce; merely an extremely rich and decadent butter and lemon emulsion.

So below, please find my way of preparing each of these classic sauces. Each one is lovely by itself, but fabulous as a base for an endless variety of flavors you can achieve through the inclusion of just a few additional key ingredients. With each recipe I have included a few of my favorite dishes starting with the basic sauce.

And for all you foodies out there, if you really want to treat your culinary senses to a non-edible gastronome experience, go see the movie. In truth the movie is more of a fable or fairy tale than a believable story, but the cooking scenes alone are worth the price of admission. Bon Appétit!

Béchamel Sauce (basic white sauce)

  • 2 T. (¼ stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. milk, heated to almost boiling (or more to reach desired thickness)
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch white pepper

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Do not let the butter turn even the least bit brown. Whisk in the flour and cook slowly for about 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the hot milk, salt and pepper; let simmer gently for about 2 minutes or until thick and creamy.

Common Uses: To prepare creamed vegetable dishes (always with a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg), base for cream soups, lasagna (my Lasagna Bolognese calls for Béchamel Sauce), cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese or fresh veggies, and mustard sauce to accompany roast meats (just add a little Dijon)

Lasagna Bolognese


Velouté Sauce (chicken flavored sauce)

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. boiling chicken stock
  • kosher salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Do not let the butter turn even the least bit brown. Whisk in the flour and cook slowly for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot chicken stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute or until sauce is smooth and velvety. Remove from heat, taste, and add salt if necessary and a very small amount of white pepper. Remember: white pepper actually has a stronger flavor than black pepper, so use sparingly.

Common Uses: Mushroom sauce for pasta, shrimp sauce, base for chicken stew, chicken pot pie, chicken and biscuits, and gravy for roast chicken

Chicken Gravy


Espagnole Sauce (beef flavored sauce sometimes called Brown Sauce or Sauce Brune)

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. diced onions
  • ¼ c. diced carrot
  • ¼ c. diced celery
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 3 c. commercially prepared or homemade beef stock (see recipe for homemade beef stock below)
  • 2 T. red wine
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley

In a heavy sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (term for the combination of onion, carrot, and celery) to the butter and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are lightly browned. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 5 minutes or until the paste (roux) turns a lovely light brown. (Watch carefully so that it does not burn. It will smell kind of nutty when it is done.) Whisk in the beef stock, red wine, and the tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and add the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until mixture has reduced by about one-third. Stir frequently. Discard bay leaf. If a smooth consistency is required, purée the sauce in a blender or food processor.

Common Uses: Base for beef stew, beef pot pie, beef gravy, Swiss steak, beef stroganoff, and as a delicious drizzle over grilled steak

Beef Stew


Homemade Beef Stock

  • 3 lbs. beef and veal meat, bones and scraps
  • 1 onion, chunked
  • 1 carrot, chunked
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 qt. cold water

Spread meat and bones out on a large rimmed baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the meat, bones and scraps are well browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer bones and all drippings to a large covered stock pot. With a small amount of water, lift all the browned bits off the bottom of the baking pan and add to stock pot. Add onion, carrot, parsley, pepper corns, bay leaf, and water. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover, and cook gently for about 4 hours. Remove from heat. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Slowly strain into another container. Discard bones and vegetables. Chill broth. (I usually refrigerate overnight.) Lift off as much of the fat as possible from the top of the now thin jelly like broth.

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice (must be from a real, picked from a tree, lemon)
  • dash hot sauce
  • ½ c. (¼ lb.) butter

Put all ingredients in blender except butter. Cover and whirl for 30 seconds. Melt butter until very hot. Add to blender in a steady stream through the little lid in the big lid until mixture is completely emulsified. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Common Uses: Eggs Benedict, slathered over cooked veggies (asparagus is our favorite), served over scrambled eggs that have been scooped onto cut croissants, and my personal favorite – dolloped onto any kind of baked, poached, or BBQ’d seafood. (Well actually, that’s not quite accurate. My all time favorite way to eat hollandaise is with a spoon, right out of the container in the refrigerator.)

Asparagus topped with Hollandaise


Sauce Tomate (basic tomato sauce – recipe number 1)

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lg. carrot, diced
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28-oz. cans) Italian tomatoes (chopped, diced, or whole – your choice)
  • 2 c. chicken or beef stock
  • ½ c. dry white wine
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley

Pour olive oil and place butter into a large covered sauce pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is tender. Stir in the canned tomatoes, stock, wine, tomato paste, pepper, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Cover pan and bring contents to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 2 hours. Stir frequently. Add water if mixture becomes too thick. After 2 hours, adjust seasoning. Discard bay leaf. Purée the sauce in a blender or food processor if a smooth consistency is required.

Note: If the sauce is not as thick as desired, mash 1 tablespoon flour into 1 tablespoon room temperature butter and whisk into sauce. Stir for about 2 minutes or until thick. Not thick enough; repeat process.

Common Uses: basic vegetarian base for any pasta dish calling for red sauce, eggplant Parmesan, chicken cacciatore, etc.

Sauce Tomate


Sauce Tomate – Classic Marinara Sauce (recipe number 2)

  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can chopped or diced tomatoes (Italian tomatoes preferably)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 T. butter, optional

In a large covered sauce pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Take the lid off part way if the sauce is too thin.) Remove from heat, remove bay leaf, add basil and adjust seasoning. If the sauce tastes acidic, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavor.










So, just to prove that I can cook fairly sophisticated food when need be, I decided to post this recipe for seared scallops. Actually, I was recently asked if I would give a class on sauces, especially sauces for seafood, but I had to respectfully decline. I’m already way over committed, plus my good friend Gay and I made a pact on New Year’s Eve that in 2014 we would get a whole lot better at saying no. Two months ago she told me she had said no to what would entail a great deal of effort on her part, something to do with a conference if I remember correctly, and I had nothing to contribute. Now at least I can tell her next time we meet that I too have conquered my addiction to the word “yes”. And just like with any other addiction, it wasn’t easy for me to break my lifelong habit. It actually took me a few days to come to my decision, but I know I made the right one. But I did promise the person that requested the class that I would post a recipe for an easy and almost fool proof recipe for beurre blanc within the next few days.

So here ladies and gentleman is my way of preparing one of the best known classic sauces. Considering that you only need a very small glazing of this simple and elegant sauce to add a depth of unparalleled flavor to any type of simple seafood preparation, any lack of healthy attributes in the sauce can and should be forgiven. (My subtle way of telling you that this sauce is full of “f” and “c” – fat and calories.) But truly, a tablespoon or two is sufficient. In fact, any more would take on the aspect of “gilding the lily”. Which brings up a subject near and dear to my heart; the idea that if some is good, a whole lot is better!

I believe this notion of more, more, more is one of the differences between an OK cook, and a really excellent cook. In fact, I think the better the cook, the more that person is able to show restraint. An excellent cook doesn’t over season food. Or add too much cheese, for example, or ever allow any one ingredient to overpower all the other flavors in a dish. If I may use a musical analogy, no section of a choir, band or orchestra should ever be allowed to drown out the sound of all the other singers or instrumentalists. The term we use musically is “blend”. And that’s exactly what we want to achieve in every dish we prepare – a perfect blend or marriage of flavors. Every ingredient should compliment every other ingredient. In other words, we should simply not allow any one ingredient to become a bully! And to take the concept one step further, we shouldn’t allow a base, like pasta, rice, or as in this recipe, perfectly seared scallops to be ruined by too much sauce.

In conclusion (I feel like I have been delivering a lecture and lectures always come with a conclusion) I should at least mention that the seared scallops in this recipe are pretty darned delicious too! (Nothing new or exciting about the preparation, in fact, possibly the easiest way there ever was to cook a scallop.)

So next time you are in the mood for a seafood dish that’s fit for even the most discerning palate in your family or group of friends, give this recipe a try. It is simply a perfect marriage of flavors.

Beurre Blanc Sauce:

  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • ½ c. dry white wine
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp. heavy cream
  • 6 T. cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • cut fresh chives, garnish, opt.

Combine the shallot, white wine, and lemon juice in a non-reactive fry pan over high heat and reduce to 1 tablespoon. Reduce heat and whisk in the cream. Once the liquid bubbles whisk in the butter one cube at a time until there are only 2 or 3 cubes left. Remove from heat and continue whisking while adding the last few butter cubes. Continue whisking until the mixture is fully emulsified. Add the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. To keep the sauce warm while you cook the scallops, place the fry pan over a bowl of hot water.


Seared Scallops:

  • 8 good sized scallops (or as many as you need)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil, or more as needed to lightly coat the bottom of your pan

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a fry pan until just about smoking. Add the scallops and sauté for about a minute or until you start to see brown around the lower edges of the scallops. Flip the scallops and cook for about another minute. Remove from pan and serve lightly glazed with the Beurre Blanc sauce and garnished with fresh chives. Serve immediately.