Working Girl

Very busy yesterday.  Of course I underestimated how long it would take and how much I could do.  Cramming it all in.  I was getting the jump on two catering jobs this Sunday and Monday.

I decided to make a mushroom pate as an appetizer for a cocktail party (which once it was baking, was cancelled to due low acceptance) so……mushroom pate it is!  I have forgotten how much I just plain love this stuff.  It’s from the Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, old hippie book of mine.  Mushrooms, celery, farmers cheese, shallots, eggs, lots of herbs…..it really has the most amazing flavors, fresh!

Here it is raw, heading into the oven.

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Here it is after 1.5 hrs. of high heat baking.

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But, here it is assembled in a Beef Wellington you make in advance, freeze and then bake frozen.  These things are really wicked cool for an elegant party, wish I had made more, for us.

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o.k. What you do is sear the tenderloin a bit, pre flash cook the spinach (and in this instance kale from my garden) squeeze dry and chill.  You cut the puff pastry as shown, put down a thick slab of blue cheese, spinach, meat, slab of mushroom pate, spinach and then close it up.  Your looking at the bottom here.  Think of it, when all that stuff melts down…..the cheese into the spinach…..the meat into the mushrooms……yummy.

Here it is flipped over, decorated, ready for the freezer.

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Once your close to dinner time, pop it out of the freezer, bake at high heat a short time, the pastry puffs and turns golden, your done!

It is a time consuming process but if you make a ton at a time it’s a better idea…..

In the meantime I had a soup going with some leftover turkey (and gel from the pan) leftover corn from Zac’s, our potatoes, our kale, our herbs, carrots, green beans, etc.  Dinner.

With:

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A new french bread recipe I wanted to try from Saveur.  This paper folding thing is kind of cool.  This is called a 4 hour bread. 

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Good bread but I am going to remain loyal to my James Beard bread.  This was nice, really crusty due to the ice cubes you put in a super hot griddle that has been preheating for 45 minutes in the oven.  I can do that with my bread.  The paper things were to keep the shape, mine keeps for some reason anyway and these kinda deflated when I removed the paper.  As to chew.  I’d say this was a chewier bread but kinda hard on the teeth.  And, this bread had a smidge less taste to it, possibly because of the small amount of salt it calls for.  Salt really does bring out the flavor.  And, my bread has the exact same ingredients but takes half the time. So that recipe is a icksnaye. 

5:00 exhausted.  That was allot of prep and details going on all at once.  In a moment of rest Paul Jrs. Allie came over and helped me clean up the apartment, vac, make the bed, (king size beds are such a pain in the butt to make up by your lonesome) wipe down, etc.  I made up some more cleaning stuff which I share with Allie…..vinegar, water, lemon juice, lavender castile soap, essence of lavender and borax.  Great combo – not only works but smells nice. 

We got the bright idea to get movies from the library.  We have an Apple TV which seriously has zip for decent movies on Netflix.  So instead of clicking forever looking for anything we decided to try the library.  What a score – tons in York.  Do you think either of us could figure out how to use the dvd thing…..NOT!  Frustrating.  We have a trillion controls, blinking lights but nope, couldn’t get the two synced.  Back to Netflix, watched Moscow, Belgium….although it’s in subtitles, it was awesome.  Interesting movie.

Breakfast items

Catering someone else’s breakfast got me going on making a few things for us.  I had french bread in house and mushrooms in the fridge.  A Strata was the easiest choice for me.  Yum.  That’s it, sauteed mushrooms added to  torn pieces of french bread (kinda stale), then an egg & milk mixture poured over, dotted with cheddar.

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The granola I made a few weeks ago got a bit seedy for me so while trolling through my really old hand written ideas I came across my original peanut butter granola.  I decided to use Almond Butter as I had it sitting there on the shelf begging for attention.  Melted that down with an equal part honey, Tbs. or so of cinnamon then  poured it over quite a few oats….6 Cups? on a baking sheet…toss, toss till everything is coated well.  Baked at 300 for 45 minutes turning occasionally.  After I took it out I added (this is where I got smart) the dried blueberries which are actually quite moist, marcona almonds which have already been roasted and then dates sliced in half, lots!  That’s it, delish.  And, most fabulous with almond milk poured over some in a bowl.

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Love this season!  Every day something new to harvest.  We’ve been pulling potatoes for about a week now:

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Lots of potato salad.  And, Zac’s corn is in:  Last night was the first this year for us.  Pretty sweet.  John said this is the earliest he has ever picked.  Maine is the new tropics.

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I’ve been making tons of various waters to drink…cucumber, mint, etc. My lemon verbena is up big time so I made some iced yesterday – just that, verbena & water.  Tasty!

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Sitting atop my new issue of Herb Companion.  Love that mag.  I’d like to try the Vanilla chamomile marshmallows or is that over the top?  I’ll post a picture when I do.

I love the Body & Soul section.  It has a Nail Whitener which seems cool.  Nails become discolored when you wear polish so take:

2 Tbs. orange flower water (TJ Max always has this stuff) it’s used for baking.

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Mix together well, use a Q Tip to apply to clean, dry nails – repeat 2-3 times that day.  Do every couple of days until your nails are back to your natural color.   Easy, no?

I thought this one was cool…for age spots, rub lemon juice on spot twice daily within six weeks should be a huge difference.  Cool.

Tomorrow I’ll be making a mushroom pate for some events this week-end, stay tuned.  It’s another blast from my past; The Vegetarian Epicure.

Catering

This is how I spent my Sunday Morning.  Wish I could have eaten some of it!  Smelled great.

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Blueberry Lemon Curd Baked French Toast, Broccoli/Cheddar Frittatas, Mini Almond Scones & Baby Blueberry Muffins.

Our friends Rick/Anita & Thomas came for a visit the other night.  They live in California but come “home” once a year.  I’ve been waiting……Anita is the most fantastic musician.  She plays every instrument, well.  Through the years she’s been playing my accordion THE FERRARI while she’s here.  I decided to give her the accordion.  I have yet to learn how to play; it’s a wonderful, just beautiful instrument and deserves someone wonderful to play it.  Anita is the one.  Here is a picture of her messing with it.

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It’s gone to a great home.  She played an Irish ballad for me that just brought tears to my eyes.  Nothing like those polka things which she does not do!  She has quite a musical family.  Her brother Ben is Ben Baldwin, a local musician is of Ben Baldwin and The Big Note fame.  We’ve all been listening to him for 30 plus years.  And, his son is in the Dirty Projectors (I think that’s the name) a modern big time group now.  I’ll be sure to visit her when I go to San Fran just to hear her beautiful playing.

I made an Olive Oil Cake for dessert that night after I gave them Taco’s.  Who serves taco’s to Californians?  Carla.  Oh well. We all loved them then the CAKE…with fresh raspberries from our garden.

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Ruth, Matt & doggies are here.  Actually, R&M have been in New York at a wedding for two days; it’s us and the dogs.  Geech. Remind me to not have so many pets around when I’m trying to work.  My dog knows to get out of my way – these guys do not.  Especially Gomer….plants his feet and won’t budge.

I had a ton of fruit and since the oven was still fired up this a.m. I threw in a mixed fruit pie for tonights dinner.

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Our potatoes are ready.  And crispy.  Slicing these is like slicing an apple – it cracks.  Bound for Potato Salad land.

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Paul has been building these little tenders for boating people.  Really cute, light, made out of canvas.  We tried it out in the pool.

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That pool is the love of my life.  Really, so nice to have.  I’m lucky.  And, now it’s a business expense, no?

Yesterday while churning out the usual laundry scene around here I got the bright idea to try washing all my zip locs in the washer instead of by hand at the sink.  I’ve always done them by hand and hung them on the line but this was better…..I used just vinegar as the wash, no soap.

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And, to be color coordinated…..

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I think our new kitty is missing Zoe!Image

Billy Bob, Among other topics!

Well, everybody has one.  A “Billy Bob” in the family.  I got a recent e-mail from a close friend “snicker snicker” with an attachment to our local newspaper.  Cripes.  There’s our Billy Bob, one of Paul’s sisters, with a COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE article about her business – one of those that belong out on Route One type of businesses.  Geech. Embarrassment plus.  So, the e-mails begin…..a flurry of them.  But, the silver lining to the story – I was telling a friend who called that it’s not so bad for me because most people don’t know my last name…..I am Carla – that’s it. 

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She reminded me I was lucky just having a single name…..it works in all sorts of situations but then she said “your kind of like Cher, you know, just one name, most people know you”.  Funny.  But, in this instance, correct.  I keep meaning to shake that other appendage to my name and actually have tried here in the State of Maine (so friggin backwards).  I actually was told by our state government folks that I could petition to use my maiden name – petition, are you joking??? and then I had to give them a form with my husbands signature recognizing (and allowing) me to change my name back.  Wholly mackerel, where and of what age are we living in?  So, I just said screw it I just won’t use it…..there you have it, Carla!  Plain and simple and with the Billy Bob’s in our world it has made one hell of a difference and saved me embarrassment.

My cooking situation has slowed right down these days – it’s been so darn hot.  Lots of swimming – killer yoga and Pilate’s at 7 a.m. at the beach and even then it’s hot and sweaty.

That fennel/kale salad a few posts back?  It gets better and better.  I had some left over corn, chilled broccoli and some already chopped kale ready to go, added the fennel 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice and some mustard.  Fabulous with grilled chicken sausage.  Yum.  Easy dinner, crunchy and cold.

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While I’m on a “that previous recipe” bent……I altered the simple sesame bread loaf posted recently.  I make it now with 2.5 cups of whole wheat, 1/2 C. of oats and then added 1/2 C. chopped smokey black walnuts.  A perfect bread for the yogurt cheese we have practically every night.

Raspberries – we have tons, yes?  So of course on the most unbearable day we had to pick (or loose to the ground) tons of berries and make jam.  The jam part doesn’t really work with raspberries as you end up with tons of seeds everything else evaporates so I strained it at the last minute as it was poured into the jars…..raspberry jelly it is.  See the one in the back – tons of seeds.

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That jam on top of yogurt cheese on top of that black walnut bread…..to die for.  That will be showing up at my catering gigs for sure!

My pal syd was discussing her daughters upcoming wedding in southern California….mentioning her brothers penchant for Hawaiian Shirts.  I love Hawaiian shirts and am always scouring Goodwill stores when I’m in tropical areas.  Killer availability in south Florida but then a friend referred to it as “dead man shirts” and I kinda felt creepy.  Apparently all the wives send off the deceased old man’s clothing to south Florida Goodwill’s….creepy.  But, Syd’s brother has all new.  She sent this photo of his closet and then tells me he has so many more, this is the tip of the iceberg.  Shirt envy big time!!!!

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Actually it’s kinda funny.  When my mother was moved up here to live with us, this is what her closet looked like, without my glasses on, but it was K-Mart Florida clothes colors.  Really odd here in Maine.

Geez, it’s in the 70’s today think I’ll cook a turkey.  We haven’t had one since last Thanksgiving and I’ve had this hankering for a bit now.  That and scones for 65 people…..no problem.

Cold cucumber/mint water

Hot dog days.  Record high – my pool is up to 87 degrees now.  And to think I actually get in it when it hits 70.  Ruth is really excited as they are coming up for a visit this week-end and she says it’s now the right temperature for her. 

I’ve been making iced coffee quite a bit lately.  The big trick to this one……filter it carefully, don’t stir it up!  Take 1/2 pound of ground, dark coffee – put it in a large glass jar.  Add 16 Cups of cold water (don’t stir, just press the coffee below the surface to make sure the entire surface is wet).  Let sit overnight.  In the a.m. place a doubled piece of muslin cloth over a strainer and LADLE the coffee carefully into the strainer.  It’s the sediment you don’t want.  After you have strained it let it sit for a minute and then ladle it into glass jars.  That’s it.  You should have zip sediment.  Truly is the best iced coffee ever and I’m kinda glad we don’t have that cafe anymore…..it’s a process that takes time and care but you will see, well worth it.  The other day I took my leftover coffee from the coffeepot and make iced with that – hell no, terrible, now that I’m a spoiled brat I couldn’t drink the leftovers anymore.  Try this way.

We were out with our sister & brother in-law last night at the Hamilton House in Eliot listening to Music in the Garden – a really fun group….Mainesqueeze.  Really fun.  Anyhow, my sister in law brought iced lemonade with cucumber & lime.  Pretty good.  Refreshing.  This morning I made a few jars of cucumber/mint/ lemon verbena and water & a squeeze of agave.  Refreshing also.

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This is nice because you can just keep adding water to the jar until you’ve really used up all the flavors…..should last quite a bit.

I don’t think I published this one yet…..my daughter in law and the girls.  Kelly put the tart together – nice job eh?

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Here’s the remains of the day:  Paul jr. his girl Allie deep in conversation with her new best friend, Colbie and Miss Zoe eating the way we all used to…..with the hands! 

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These two spent days following each other around! 

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It was you follow me, I’ll follow you.

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Tonight I’m making Pad Thai – maybe some shots tomorrow if all turns out well.  It is hard to think of food with days like these.

We did go sailing this week-end and ended up opting for the air conditioned car!  It was even hot and sweaty out on the ocean and no wind.  Hardly know this is Maine.