Nibbles and Appetizers (The Starters)

tableside

Caesar Salad Without A Net

     One of the more delightful experiences diners can have is for a skilled waiter to prepare a Caesar salad at their table. It’s a chance for waiters to demonstrate their art by vigorously whisking, mixing, tossing and stirring the ingredients to the delight of their patrons. After croutons are added for crunch and slivers of cheese for flavor, the salad is served.  Ah, perfection.      With a bit of preparation and practice, you can do this at home.  If you want some pointers, search “Caesar salad preparation” on YouTube,…

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Turtle for soup

Turtle Soup (A Louisiana Delicacy)

      Seeking culinary adventures while vacationing in New Orleans, Dorothy and I thought what better way to begin than to dine at Commander’s Palace. We’d heard so much about the great food and impeccable service, and we were very excited about the evening’s possibilities.      As a first course we ordered turtle soup. It was suggested by our waiter that we might order a glass of sherry to drink with the soup, and we followed his advice.      The soup arrived at our table. It had a wonderful aroma and…

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Crock of homemade butter

Sweet and Delicious Homemade Butter

      Butter – absolutely one of the sweetest, most delicious treats in life.  This was brought to light while we were enjoying a cheese plate with a side of bread at a favorite wine bar and delicatessen. I broke off a piece of the bread, buttered it, and I was shocked at how good it tasted. I like butter, but this was special.      Back home I tasted our usual brand of butter.  It paled by comparison. Over the next several weeks I tried seven different commercial brands, and none…

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Tomato salsa

Salsa Season In The Midwest

    Salsa has a season; at least it does in the Midwest. It begins when those first July tomatoes ripen on the vine, and it might last into the middle of September.      It’s hard to beat the succulent taste of a fresh tomato, and it spoils it for the rest of the year when we have to rely on grocery stores to be our providers. Their tomatoes certainly don’t compare with our homegrown types, but it really isn’t fair to the out-of-state growers to make such comparisons.      First…

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Wine flight

Wine Flight Appetizers (A Novel First Course)

      For a novel first course, we sometimes substitute the salad for a wine flight. We’ve found this to be an enjoyable and unique way to kick off an evening.      To populate a wine flight, we select wines either by vintage, varietal, region, or country. We also think it’s a good idea to consider the level of sophistication of the guests’ wine palettes. If our guests are new to wine, it gives them a chance to contrast the differences between each grape.       One of our recent wine flights featured…

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Sage

Camembert (Warmed) With Wild Mushroom Fricassee

     The World Series has been known as “The Fall Classic” for decades, but in our family we have recently added our own fall classic. It’s Food & Wine’s recipe for Warmed Camembert With Wild Mushroom Fricassee.      We have always liked soft cheeses, especially Brie, and many times we have eaten it warmed (melted). It was usually served with a sweet topping consisting of apples or apricots, but this recipe takes more of a savory approach. It calls for Camembert which is much like our old favorite, Brie. It…

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guacamole

Guacamole In A Molcajete (Patio Fare)

     Are you looking for something besides salsa to serve with a pitcher of margaritas? Prepare a delicious guacamole dip made with fresh ingredients and serve it in a molcajete        A molcajete is a traditional Mexican version of a mortar and pestle). It has a rough surface, so you can use it to crush and grind herbs and spices, making it very functional.  You can actually make the guacamole in the molcajete and then garnish the top with strips of pimento and sprigs of either cilantro or Italian parsley.       Its…

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Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller (A Name Dropper)

     This renowned dish, Oysters Rockefeller, first appeared at Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans in 1899 by the proprietor, Jules Alciatore. According to legend, the dish was created as a substitute for baked French snails which weren’t available at that time.      The following recipe is the old Delmonico Restaurant’s take on the dish along with some changes and additions of my own. Because of the sauce’s intense richness, it was named in honor of John D. Rockefeller, a very wealthy man of that era.      So, did John D. Rockefeller…

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Ladies cooking a vinaigrette

Chardonnay Vinaigrette Dressing (Cooking With Wine)

“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields      At a wine and jazz festival I was attending they offered a course entitled “Cooking With Wine.”  The chef prepared three courses: salad (with a vinaigrette), entrée (with a pan sauce for chicken), and dessert (with berries over ice cream).  Each of the dishes contained a reduction of the wine that was selected to accompany the dish, and the result was a perfect wine/food pairing for each course.      It seemed like such a novel idea…

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