Monday, September 12, 2016

"Yes It's True I Love Him, Serendipity and Pass the French Onion Soup?"

I met him when I was just a child and I would see him almost every day. My feelings for him were intoxicating and I craved him more and more just to pacify my addiction. He is aged, earthy, smoky, briny, toasty, mellow, buttery, sharp, milky, sweet, hot, salty, smooth and creamy and oh so much more as he is a world traveler and many versions of himself exist. He makes my mouth water just thinking about him being near me. I try to say no but I can't resist the temptation of his empowering robust scent. He leaves me to search for him in the night to share a bottle of wine and ease the troubles of the day. He takes me on a serendipitous voyage through his vortex of pleasure. He is cheese and I love him.

Through the world he is known as Ost, Formage, Queso, Kass, Formaggio, Juusto, Siers and Sir but I just call him cheese. He is so multi faceted and has many different varieties with names such as Karish, Kasserri, Brie, Aura, Kalari, Staazer, Gorgonzola, Sirene, Havarti, Saga, Mascarpone and Manchago to name drop on a few of the lovers I have had. The tastes, textures and smells really curdle my cream when I have a good portion of my lover who ages like fine wine.

The story goes something like this: an ancient Arab sets out on a journey across the desert. In preparation, he puts a ration of milk into a handy sheep’s stomach to transport it. (Those ancient Arabs didn’t waste many animal parts.) When the sun goes down, he makes camp and discovers that, due to the rennet in the sheep’s stomach and the hot sun, his milk has separated into thin, milky whey and lumpy curds of cheese. He drinks one and eats the other, discovering that the whey is refreshing and the curds are utterly delicious. 

What we do know for sure is that cheese predates recorded history. It may have originated accidentally in Arabia like the story goes, or it could be European. Wherever it happened, it does seem somewhat plausible that the practice of storing liquids in such things as the stomach of animal may really have led to the accidental invention of cheese because of the rennet, as noted. Serendipity!

I have so many favorite recipes that involve cheese I will share two of my favorites with you.

The first is my recipe for my French Onion Soup. French onion soup is a simple, rustic and delicious dish. It’s one of my favorite food items. Although it takes a bit of time to make, it is so worth it. 

So, where did French onion soup come from? Well, although not really original to France, the French did improve the original recipe. Would you expect any less? Apparently, French onion soup dates back to antiquity. The Greeks and the Romans enjoyed a soup made with cooked onions tossed in a broth. At some point in time, the French decided that the onions should be caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness. Good idea! To top things off, Gruyere and toasted bread and broiled in the oven until a bubbling brown. The cognac is added at the very end (right before the broiling).

French Onion Soup


  • 3 medium onions sliced 
  • 2 Vidalia 1 Yellow
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 sprigs of thyme tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1tsp tarragon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 oz. cognac
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere
  • toasted baguette slices


  1. Place onions in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle with flour, pepper and salt.
  2. In a medium stock pot melt the butter and add the onions. Toss onions in the butter until they are translucent. Add the sugar.
  3. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook until onions are caramelized (a brown color). This will take about 45 minutes. Move onions around frequently to ensure even cooking.
  4. Add the stock,wine, thyme, bay leaves, tarragon, oregano, shallot and garlic. Cook for about 30 minutes on low.
  5. Turn off heat. Add cognac and nutmeg. Stir and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Portion into oven safe bowls.
  7. Place toasted slices of baguette on top of the soup. Sprinkle liberally with Gruyere.
  8. Place under the broiler until the cheese begins to sizzle. 

The second recipe I want to share is for my Mediterranean Saganaki. Saganaki is actually not the name of the dish but the name of the small pan used to cook it in. The sexy Greek appetizer made with Kasseri cheese and fried to golden brown perfection. It's ooey, gooey goodness makes this a favorite. You can use Ouzo or Cognac to flame your cheese after it has been melted to perfection and serve with warm pita wedges, whole olives or an olive tappenade, diced tomatoes, and lemon wedges. 

Greek Cheese Saganaki

1 16-ounce package kasseri cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rectangular slices 
All purpose flour 
 6 tablespoons (about) olive oil 
 2 1/2 lemon 
 2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 
 tomato diced, kalamata or olive tappenade warm pita wedges


1. Rinse cheese slices under cold water (do not pat dry)

2. Coat with flour.

3. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.

4. Add cheese and cook until beginning to brown, about 1 minutes per side.

5. Pour ouzo or cognac and flambe

6. Squeeze lemon over cheese to douse flame

7. Sprinkle with oregano and pepper.

8, Serve with tomatoes, warm pita and olives.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Emotions- Mind, Body and Soul! I Think I'd Rather be a Crab....Cajun Corn and Crab Bisque"

I am FREE! Free from the burden of the constant thoughts of what I could have done differently to change an inevitable outcome. How absolutely liberating. It just now happened in a split second with something so simple as looking at today's date. Wow! I feel this renewed sense of being and happiness is an overwhelming positive rush of emotion and euphoria like an addict getting high for the first time after getting out of a three year stint in rehab. Emotions are often difficult to explain, at least mine are. It amazes me that sometimes I can come up with something so profound to explain myself but my anxiety won't let me do anything about it. Someone called me a rock and then I told someone else that I am nothing more than a bunch of well thought out, strategically placed pebbles and that if one was disrupted it would ruin the integrity of the rest and they would crumble. How in the hell do I explain THAT!?  You see my pebbles represent my many emotions....fear, lust, anger, sorrow, joy, pain, the rest you know. If I allow my emotions to disrupt the integrity of my foundation then the world will see I am not a rock after all.  Well I can't let that happen, nope not me, I am every bit of the rock I have proven to be, I think. I am strong and externally fearless but internally I cower like a child waiting for the monsters to come out from under the bed. I need a flashlight, a beacon perhaps to guide me through the long dark nights and protect me from the demons lurking in the corners of my mind. I got this! I think.

Oh my mind! When I am in my kitchen I express my emotions through my recipes, my technique and my plating. When I am in the studio I express my emotions by the color palette I chose and the brush strokes on the canvas. When I sing I get to belt out the undigested pain in my gut.  You see I have found outlets for releasing my emotions that very few understand but I express them to you every time I make another entry to my blog, yet another release.  This is all expression of the mind and mine is pretty complex so I need many outlets to release suppressed emotion.

Touch me dammit!!!! Physical touch is an important expression of emotion. The satisfying feeling you get when you care about someone and they gently stroke your arm or the small of your back as they guide you through a doorway. The passion of a kiss from someone that has a piece of your heart always, and that you may really want to go to another level of physicality but refrain because you know the timing isn't right and may never be, and as bad as it hurt, you know you did the right thing. But still you wonder and question your decision. Then there is the physical pain of wanting to hold someone in your arms but they're not physically there and you feel lost and confused about it and you question the entire reality of it all. But I am a self admitted over thinker, I wish I could control that! Someday perhaps.

The Eyes are the Windows of the that is a powerful connection. Knowing someone is one thing but when you look deep into their eyes you see their emotions or lack thereof. You see everyone that ever touched them, the joy they hold of thoughts of those who once loved them or the constant sorrow of remembering those that hurt them and shattered their hearts. You see all of the emotion they have for you so vividly expressed without having to speak a word. To me it is the most intimate form of expression, a corneal orgasm of sorts. Holding someone tightly while swaying to a beloved song and seeing the colorful flecks dance in their eyes is arousing and inviting. It allows the souls to unite and entwine into a tumultuous affair of their respective inner beings.

Sometimes I think that I want to be reincarnated as a crab.....I am serious. Their mating rituals are so basic. The female molts her shell and makes welcoming gestures in response to the male crab doing a happy dance, waving his claws back and forth and kicking up some sand...and then they fuck for a few days. That's it!  No real emotions to deal with and when it's done you turn them both into soup. We humans are so deep and full of eccentricities and we can't do anything simple. I think some of us even look for the hardest ways of doing things, expect the worst from ourselves and others and we never look on the brighter side of the street for fear of being blinded by what truths we may see. I say fuck it I wanna be a crab and be devoured and enjoyed and not have a care or emotion in the world.

Tasty Tasting Everyone!

Cajun Crab and Corn Bisque

  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine - I tend to use Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels 
  • pinch cayenne pepper - VERY IMPORTANT!
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs - I usually just throw in some parsley, oregano and basil, but thyme is good to - just whatever you've got handy
  • 1 1/2 cup heave whipping cream
  • 1 tsp  fresh Tarragon leaves
  • 16 oz crab meat 
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add corn, cayenne, dill, and mixed herbs. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and simmer gently over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Do not let the soup boil.
  4. Stir in the crab meat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat gently for 3-4 minutes. Serve with a good crusty bread and a splash of Cream Sherry

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Happiness Is Like Jambalaya...Built On Balance"

Are any of us truly happy? I'm not talking about superficial happiness I am talking about deep down in your soul, demons harmoniously dancing with each other, while your angels are fornicating with your random devils kinda happy. I doubt many people can answer that truthfully because so few take the time to gaze into the vastness of their souls to find out what really makes them "happy".

I don't know which direction to take to find my happiness. I was in a huge funk until a good friend came to visit and I let my demons out to play for a few days and I was better for doing so. I guess when my demons arise I must give them their freedom or they will eat me up inside my own head. They sometimes have control of my happiness and I just can't refrain from taking them to the playground and watching them swing so high the swing set lifts from the ground and leaves you holding your breath as to whether they will come crashing down backwards or land safely on the ground. So is this the right kind of happiness I need in my life? I think if balance is put into the equation I could possibly control the hurt that lurks inside,

I have always been the chick that likes to have a good time and have learned to balance it out with the hippie little Suzie Homemaker inside but sometimes I fall off the see saw. It hurt immensely being discarded like a fired domestic and I realized that's all I was for a few years. I forgot who "I" was. Well I still hurt but it is not like it used to kill me inside to where I would pour myself into a bottle instead of pouring the pain out and down the sewer where it belonged. I have quite a few friends who helped put the pieces of me back together. The smile is even genuine now. I have my moments where I have to remind myself to force a happy face. Am I happy? All I can say is I am trying. I am my own warden and I must not things get to a riotous frenzy, I must have self control and maintain balance and then I may truly be happy. I must balance my work, my art, my writing my home life, my good times all to create my true recipe for happiness.

I think when I create I am at my happy point. I look at cooking as therapy and nothing like good soulful food to take me to my happy place.

Enter Jambalaya, a quintessential New Orleans classic. Built on a foundation of harmonious balance to create happiness.

There are two general kinds of jambalaya: Creole and Cajun. What’s the difference? The main difference is that Creole jambalaya, also called “red jambalaya” uses tomatoes, Cajun jambalaya does not. Another difference is the order in which the ingredients are prepared. But both utilize what’s referred to as the “holy trinity” – onion, celery, and bell pepper (usually green but I prefer red). This jambalaya is the Creole version my Happy Place.

An important element in this dish is the homemade Creole seasoning. The flavor will be fresher, bolder, better. If you have the herbs and spices on hand to make it, your taste buds will thank you and perform a perfect triple axle. If you must use store-bought, no worries: You’ll still get a double axle. Tender chicken, juicy shrimp and spicy andouille sausage and tossed with rice, bell peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, and a generous dose of Creole seasoning. It’s comfort food with some kick (how much kick is up to you) and it’s sure to become a favorite. So come get your Creole on and laissez les bons temps rouler!
Tasty Tastings Everyone!!!!!
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ pound andouille sausage, sliced in ¼ inch slices
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green red pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup white long grain rice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (see recipe below)
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound medium raw shrimp, deveined (optional: tails removed)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • For the Creole Seasoning:
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Instructions
  • Combine all the spices in a coffee or spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight jar until ready to use.
  1. Place the chicken in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on all sides. Add the andouille sausage and cook for another 3 minutes or so until the sausage begins to brown.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, diced tomatoes, remaining tablespoon of Creole seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves.
  4. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, giving it one stir around the halfway point. Add the shrimp, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  5. Serve sprinkled with some sliced green onions.