Open that Bottle —Part 2

Yesterday we opened some very nice bottles of wine.  We had a 1961 Chateau Palmer.  We also tried some some 1988 Gaja.

There are technical difficulties uploading the photos…. they will follow.


Open that Bottle Night!!!!

Tonight is Open that Bottle NIght.  It was started by the wine critics for the Wall Street Journal and is to promote opening the bottle that you have been saving.  Wine is meant to be enjoyed, so invite friends or family and OPEN THAT BOTTLE!!


Short Ribs

Short Ribs are not a cut of meat that I use often.  I have always have been afraid of the fat content. But when they are braised, they literally fall apart and there is very little fat on the meat.

3Tbs olive oil

4 Lbs short ribs

1 large tomato

1 onion

4 celery sticks

3 garlic cloves

thyme and  oregano sprigs

2 cups red wine

Salt and Pepper

Brown the ribs on all sides in a heavy pan that has a lid.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Take all vegetables (no herbs) and puree them in a processor.  Saute the puree and add the wine and the herbs.  Cook for about 5 min. then place the browned ribs in a single layer.  Cover and place in a preheated oven at 350 until the meat is tender.  That should take about 3 hours. Serve.


Chef Jimmy’s dinner party

The other night we had dinner at my friend Chef Jimmy’s house.  He has been working everyday that week and still wanted to cook for us.  Now that’s true dedication!

Chef Jimmy is a personal chef who also has a line of spices.  Check out his website..

Our first course was a shrimp cocktail.

The main course was rack of lamb.  He cooked them in a smoker.  There was tons of smoke…

Chef Jimmy also created a “Bibb and Blue” salad.  It was beautiful and delicious.

The finished plate was really wonderful.  A very good time was had by all.  Thank you Chef Jimmy and Food is Love!

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Airport Breakfast

Now, Caviar is one of the “other” food groups, isn’t it?  Talk about the ultimate Umami taste.  But for breakfast?  I don’t think so.  But if you are at Heathrow airport at 9am and have not had breakfast, you have to check out the Caviar House.

Scrambled eggs and salmon…more of a brunch meal.  But it certainly felt decadent as you sit in the airport looking at 10+ hours of flight.  And just think… you won’t be hungry and want to eat the horrid airplane meal.

Next time, it will have to be Caviar!!

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Rosca de Reyes

The Rosca de Reyes is the traditional bread that is eaten for the celebration of the Three Kings on January 6th.  The Three Kings are Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar.  The classic beverage that goes with this is a steaming hot Mexican chocolate.  What a wonderful child friendly dinner.  Each person cuts their slice and hidden in the bread is a plastic or porcelain baby Jesus.  The person that gets the toy is responsible for hosting a party on the 2nd of February, the “Dia de la Candelaria”.  Hey, it can’t be bad to have holiday celebrations from December to February!!!


The traditional song is below, with it’s English translation.

Ya vienen los Reyes Magos
ya vienen los Reyes Magos
caminito de Belén
olé, olé, Holanda y olé
Holanda ya se ve

Cargaitos de jugetes
cargaitos de jugetes
para el Niño de Belén
olé, olé, Holanda y olé
Holanda ya se ve

Qué cargados van
qué cargados van
los camellos rebozan jugetes
para el Rey de los cielos
que está en el portal

Que está en el portal
que está en el portal
los camellos rebozan jugetes
para el Rey de los cielos
que está en el portal

Como el camino es tan largo
como el camino es tan largo
pide el Niño de beber
olé, olé Holanda y olé
Holanda ya se ve

No pidas agua mi vida
no pidas agua mi vida
no pidas agua mi bien
olé, olé Holanda y olé
Holanda ya se ve

Que los ríos vienen turbios
que los ríos vienen turbios
y no se puede beber
olé, olé Holanda y olé
Holanda ya se ve

Dicen que nació
dicen que nació
sin pañales ni ropa ninguna
y la misma luna sábanas de Dios

Sábanas de Dios
sábanas de Dios
sin pañales ni ropa ninguna
y la misma luna sábanas de Dios.

The Wise Men are coming
the Wise Men are coming
on their way to Bethlehem
olé, olé, Holy land and olé
Holy land can be seen.
Carrying lots of toys
carrying lots of toys
for the Child in Bethlehem
olé, olé, Holy land and olé
Holy land can be seen.

What a load they carry
what a load they carry
the camels bearing all the toys
for the King of Heaven
that is in the portal.

That is in the portal
that is in the portal
the camels are loaded with toys
for the King of Heaven
who is in the portal.

Since the journey is too long
since the journey is too long
the Child asks for water
olé, olé, Holy land and olé
Holy land can be seen.

Don’t ask for water my love
don’t ask for water my love
don’t ask for water my dear
olé, olé, Holy land and olé
Holy land can be seen.

The rivers are turbid
the rivers are turbid
and you can’t drink its water
olé, olé, Holy land and olé
Holy land can be seen.

They say He was born
they say He was born
without dippers or cloths
but  the moon is God’s bed sheet.

God’s bed sheets
God’s bed sheets
without dippers or cloths
but the moon is God’s bed sheet.

In Mexico there are so many great bakeries that make super Rosca.  I really don’t make it,  yes, yes…I know… But here is a really nice recipe from Ingrid Hoffman.  She does a really wonderful job with it.

Three Kings Bread: Rosca de Reyes
Recipe courtesy Ingrid Hoffmann, 2008

Prep Time:35 minInactive Prep Time:1 hr 0 minCook Time:40 min
8 servings

1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup dried figs, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup candied lemon peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries, plus more whole for garnish
2 tablespoons light rum
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, divided
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Put all of the candied fruit in small bowl and drizzle the rum on top. Let stand for 15 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the flavor.

In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 eggs, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and the rum soaked candied fruits, mixing very well until the dough gathers into a ball. If the dough is too wet, Add additional flour, a little at a time, if needed to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Using your palms, roll the dough into a long rope. Shape the coil into a ring, sealing the ends together. Insert a little doll or coin into the bread from the bottom, if desired. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of the bread. Decoratively garnish the top of the bread with more candied fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden.

Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Cook’s Note: Let your guests know there is a little doll or coin inserted inside.

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Happy New Year and Feliz dia de los Reyes

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to the New Year.   We all hope that 2010 is going to be a year of peace, happiness, health and prosperity to all.DSCN0833

The year certainly did start well for our family.  Nothing says New Years like a glass of the bubbly….yum, and fireworks.  We had both, and it was spectacular.



Today is the day that we celebrate the Day of the Three Kings.  Children in Mexico put out their shoes the night before and get a gift from the Kings.  Other Latin American countries have slightly different traditions.  I have heard of some countries where the children put out their shoes and in return get books.  I think it is a beautiful tradition.

Whatever your family tradition is, this is the time to reflect on the wonder of a loving family and the prospect of a fabulous future year.  Remember life is what you make it.  It’s a journey…be a good traveler.


Shrimp Curry

Curry is a very easy and delicious quick sauce.  This is a seafood version that uses shrimp, but you can make it with chicken or any other protein and you can even make it vegetarian.


Make a bechamel sauce.  I do these in my sleep, and don’t really measure.  This was one of the “basics” my mother made sure I knew how to make when I was very young.  I am eternally grateful  for that since this is used in so many different ways.

I like Michael Rhulman’s ratio for Roux.  He recommends 3 parts flour: 2 parts flour and the thickening ratio is 10 parts liquid : 1 part roux.

I add good curry powder to the flour when I browned it.   I used milk as my liquid.  Once it was the consistency I wanted, I added raw peeled and cleaned shrimp.  It only takes a few minutes to cook the shrimp.  Make sure you don’t over cook shrimp.  It gets very tough.

Serve over rice and add whatever condiments you’d like.  I enjoy shredded coconut, peanuts, raisins, green onions, finely chopped chiles.  On the side serve a nice chutney.  We had the last of my mother’s Calamondin Chutney.  Soooooo delicious.  So sad that it’s the last jar….




Winter Wonderland

winterIt’s that time of year.  There is a beautiful blanket of snow over everything bringing a calm serenity to the world.  This type of season brings to mind comfort foods, meals that warm the soul.  One of my favorite pastimes when it is cold out is to read through cook books.  It really creates inspirations that will lend themselves to wonderful meals at another time.  So let the day dreaming begin……



The 21 club in New York is a very old establishment.  In fact it was a speakeasy during prohibition.  My husbands great grandmother was actually busted one evening.  This is one of their signature dishes.  It’s not exactly figure friendly, but it sure is good.

Chicken Hash with Seared Spinach and Wild Rice

1 ½ lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups chicken stock
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup unbleached white flour
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ lb grated gruyere
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the
chicken breasts, and lower the heat to a simmer. Poach the chicken breasts 20 minutes or until
fully cooked.
2. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and cook completely before cutting into one‐
inch cubes. Reserve the liquid.
3. Combined the softened butter with the flour, kneading them together into a paste.
4. Return the reserved chicken stock to a boil, and using a wire whisk, add the flour/butter
combination in one‐tablespoon increments.
5. Cook 5 minutes then add the sherry and cream.
6. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Whisk in the cheese and nutmeg. Remove from
heat once cheese is melted.
7. Fold in diced chicken.
8. OPTIONAL CRUNCHY TOPPING: Top with additional cheese, and brown lightly under
9. Serve with spinach and wild rice. Many patrons prefer the hash served over white toast (no
crust) instead of wild rice.

Seared Spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves and sear quickly on
one side.
2. Add salt and pepper.
3. Toss/turn with tongs or a spatula to cook the rest of the spinach until just wilted, but still
bright green. (5 or 6 minutes)

Wild Rice
2 cups water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Combine water, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste in a pot with a snug‐fitting lid. Bring to a
boil. Add the rice, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40‐45 minutes.