Mushroom Gravy

     This easy creamy gravy, spiked with Marsala wine, can be whisked together while the main event of your meal is cooking. Start by browning mushrooms in butter to give the gravy plenty of savory flavor. Add flour to thicken, simmer in Marsala wine and beef broth, and finish with heavy cream. Serve this versatile gravy with everything from meatloaf to beef Wellington.

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Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

     Beef Wellington. Even it’s name is a bit stuffy.  As for haughty cuisine, I place it in the same class as oysters Rockefeller, beef bourguigon, Caesar salad, and baked Alaska. We also assume it’s a dish only that only the well-heeled and well-to-do can afford. I’ve seen it described as ritzy and swank, and my personal favorite descriptors have been highfalutin and fancy-schmancy.      It’s basically a steak fillet covered with pate de foie gras, then wrapped in pastry and baked. The beef  [tenderloin] is seared, then topped with either foie…

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A Delectable Cheese Soufflé. Sheer Ecstasy.

     A cheese souffle’ can be to any chef what the Sistine Chapel was to Michelangelo; it can be either agony or ecstasy, or both.      Any time I attempt to make a souffle’, I am well aware of the possibilities. It might end up being a total flop (agony). But there’s a greater likelihood that it will end up a spectacular dish. It will appear all puffed-up high, a light and fluffy concoction, browned on top and flavorful on the inside (ecstasy).      It’s helpful to understand the magic that…

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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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Succotash a la Thoreau

     I know this is a sneaky way to introduce a great recipe for succotash, but it’s a given – almost every succotash recipe contains beans. And when beans are mentioned, two personalities usually come to mind: Duke (the dog in the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial) and Henry David Thoreau.      Duke is not important here, but Thoreau is. He was born on July 12, 1817 and died at the age of 44. If his life hadn’t been cut short by tuberculosis, he would have celebrated his 200th birthday this year. As the longest living…

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Zucchini souffle

The Elegant Zucchini Soufflé

     I’d like to start off with a zucchini quote of my own:      “A noticeable odor during the late summer months is the stink of zucchinis rotting in the landfills.” The Rodney Dangerfield of Vegetables     A zucchini gets no respect. It isn’t as cool as a cucumber, as colorful as a carrot, or as sexy a tomato. It’s not as versatile as a potato. It’s also not as useful as an ochre, nor does it have a rich history like that of the noble leek. As a matter of…

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A Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich To Die For

     I love a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, and I’m not alone. In polls where people were asked about their favorite sandwich, the BLT was either at the top or close to the top of every list. And it’s so simple: two slices of bread, mayo, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. That’s it.      Not all BLTs I’ve eaten have been great. I’ve been served many that I didn’t think were very good at all. What I think sets a great one apart from the others are (1) the quality…

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Moon Pie

Solar Eclipse Moon Pies

     It you want to make a hit with your children (or grandchildren), make some homemade moon pies. Sure, you can buy the commercial kind. It’s easier and probably less expensive, but you’re not going to make any memories.      After a couple of trial runs, invite the kids to your kitchen and get started. Let them do as much as is safely possible. The cookies will be made in three stages: making the sandwich cookies, assembling the moon pies, and dipping the moon pies in chocolate.      I warn…

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late corn grits

Fresh Corn Grits. A Sacrilege, But Surprisingly Delicious.

Simply Perfect      The chef, Jacques Pepin, was asked what dishes he would request for his last meal. He said one of his choices would be hand-picked freshly-shelled peas straight from the garden with butter and sea salt. This shows a great culinary experience doesn’t have to involve exotic ingredients, dozens of spices, and complicated techniques. It can be a simple dish. As a matter of fact, in the case of Pepin’s peas, any further additions would detract from this basic but perfect concoction. Another Great but Simple Dish      I recently…

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Mushroom-potato Bake

Irish Ayes Potato Bake (An Ahead-Of-Time Side)

      We have found hosting a dinner party without auxiliary help to be a bit tricky. If we are assuming the roles of both host and cook, we have to divide our time. We must work in the kitchen and have a socializing presence where we can engage in pre-dinner conversation. Prepare the Dishes Ahead of Time      We can’t be in two places at once. I have found it’s ideal to have the food cooking and much of the preparation done before the guests arrive. As an example, if the entrée is beef bourguignon, we would assemble and…

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