Thursday, February 27, 2014

#Matsuhisa and Mocha Cookies (It got a little better!)


The evening began with the pass off of fudge brownies filled with cookie dough and a bunch of coffee mocha cookies. (I keep my cookies in a giant zip lock bag so they stay moist. I can assure you that when the bag is opened it smells like a just brewed cup of coffee.) A Paul Prudhomme recipe produced these cookies and I have no idea what took me so long to bake them. This is an adult cookie, rich, with a dense, chewy texture, not too sweet and with the addition of chocolate, makes me almost want to call these Frappucino cookies, but I won't.

Alex Odie San ( a term of respect in Japanese) Odenator is currently working in  Matushisa in Vail. It is a vast, modern restaurant but the sushi bar is quite small and therefore quite quaint, to sit in. Not quaint because of the decor, but because of the close, warm feeling you get from sitting there. The three of us were seated and then the show began. It was a show that deserved about ten standing ovations and I hope to give them at least two every time I go back.


Matsuhisa is a well known Japanese restaurant that combines Peruvian and Argentinian elements into its truly unique cuisine. It also adds a bit of kokoro or heart that can be felt in every dish. Nobu is a classically trained sushi chef who has had enormous influence around the world. Trust me, this man does food like no other. Nobu Matsuhisa has many restaurants around the world that bear the name of either Nobu or Matsuhisa and for the first time, I was able to try fresh wasabi and fresh hearts of palm.

Fresh Hearts of Palm Salad
 I was able to watch the sushi chefs prepare sushi "new style" which is when they sear the sushi with a torch for a brief few seconds before serving. The results are outstanding. 

My mother is a big fan of Nobu. She has enjoyed his food in New York and Las Vegas and on a ship cruising around South America. After reading this I know she will wish that she was with us at the sushi bar. The funny thing is that when I was 14 or so I remember my younger brother choosing for his birthday to eat at a Japanese restaurant in Chicago.(This was when there weren't Tokyo Joe's on every corner, no one had even heard of sushi and probably not tempura or teriyaki either! I'm not sure why he chose Japanese other than maybe he was enamored with the Japanese exchange student that stayed with us one summer. One night the students had a get together and put on their kimonos and we were all awed with the gorgeous sight.) In any case, we were seated behind rice paper doors in our own private room. Truth be told I remember walking out of there after what I'm sure was an expensive meal and the first words, as I recall, out of my father's mouth were something like,"I'm still hungry. Who wants ice cream?"

It took a long time for me to want Japanese food again. Many years later a girlfriend dragged me to lunch and proceeded to teach me the art of eating sushi. From then on I was hooked. And luckily in Denver we have a few really good Japanese places. But not like Matsuhisa; Matsuhisa with a touch of Peruvian spices thrown here and there.

I finally was able to taste Nobu's signature broiled black cod with miso, but in my humble opinion, it is the sea bass with black bean sauce that I fell in love with.

Broiled Black Cod with Miso
 But then I also fell in love with the scallops with jalapeno relish served over Brussels sprouts. I mean look at these. Love at first sight, right? 

Scallops with Jalapeno Relish
There were so many dishes dished out that it is hard to remember them individually. The sake was breathtakingly served in a bamboo pitcher that held the chill. We drank cold sake and ate warm shishito peppers sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes that were a perfect way to begin the evening. And what an evening it was. Later I moved from sake to the gardeners cocktail which combines chili and ginger and lime and cilantro with Hendrick's gin which I will recreate. The quartet of sashimi plates placed before us were not only gorgeous, but enlightening  to all of my senses. In fact, those were bites I will not soon forget. The sable, the salmon, the mackerel, OMG, the fresh shrimp, were incredible. 


Yes, the lobster tacos
Lobster Tacos
and the tuna miso chips were delectable but Nobu's cuisine shines in his ability to combine ingredients in a creative way.

The hearts of palm salad was fresh and vibrant and addicting. The baby spinach salad with grilled shrimp, dry miso and parmesan was something I could eat every day. Probably something I should eat every day! 

Spinach with Grilled Shrimp, Dry Miso and Parmesan
The only thing I didn't partake of, but the boys did, was the oyster shooters with quail eggs. They must have had ten different ingredients in them but I wanted to be sure my appetite held! We were served rock shrimp tempura and King crab tempura and each bite was luscious and savory and sweet and well, there is a reason these dishes are popular.

King Crab Tempura

Rock Shrimp Tempura
I even had a slice of the steak seared on a salt block, but not being a beef eater anymore, I let the men finish this one. They were not disappointed.

We loved the live octopus and the maguro and the way our sushi san took care of us. He would have kept preparing for us all night but we just couldn't take it anymore. At least until dessert was put in front of us. Dessert? You didn't think they'd let us go without dessert, did you?

Hibiscus PannaCotta
Adzuki Bean Cakes
Yogurt hibiscus flavored panna cotta with tiny lemon macarons, oh man, partnered with adzuki bean cakes topped with pineapple salsa, bordeaux cherries and whiskey sauce sent us out into the chill of the evening with the need to walk around Vail at least ten times to work it all off. We were champs, we did it in. And then we were done in, but in a good way.


But of course that was when we got the text about some cute little dog barking from some
idiot landlord. 

One thing I enjoyed most about the menu was that it gave a simplistic description of each menu item. In other words, surprises await, when you are served. And I love surprises! Be assured though that nothing about this menu is simple. Being able to watch the dedication and perfection of the sushi chefs made it quite clear that nothing was simple, though it was made to appear that way. Walking through the kitchen after dinner was another fun experience. However the walk didn't take long. This was a tiny kitchen that amazingly has turned out up to 550 dinners during high season when the restaurant holds about 150! 

We easily lost track of all the delicacies placed before us. What we didn't lose track of was the ease with which we were served. I would have happily given each server a hug and more cookies and sent their mothers a note telling them how great they are. Just like they kept telling me how great Alex Odie San Odenator was. And the sous chef-the incredibly young sous chef who graduated from the CIA-yes he was remarkable. And sweet and sooo unassuming. I'm sure he was in charge of the kokoro that  was served with each dish. The loving attention sent our way. The reason the evening will stay in my heart.


Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Yield: 3-4 dozen
Time:30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c instant coffee powder (I use the espresso type)
2 T plus 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (Cook the whites and give them to the cute little barking dog)
2 1/2 c plus 3 T cake flour
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Cream the butter in an electric mixer on high speed, about one minute. Add sugars and beat on high speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large mixing cup, mix the coffee, vanilla and egg yolks until the coffee is dissolved. Add to butter mixture and beat on high speed until well blended and an even color, scraping the bowl as needed. Add flour and mix about 1-2 minutes until flour is incorporated. Stir in the chips.

Drop large teaspoonfuls of batter onto a greased or parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 until cookies are very lightly browned on the edges, about 16 minutes. Cool until cookies start to harden, about 3-5 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container or a giant Zip Lock bag. The longer these cookies sit, the more intense the coffee flavor becomes.

More fun food to try:
Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
King Cake
Cajun Potatoes
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It Doesn't Get Much Better than Fudge Brownies with Cookie Dough Filling


The weekend was supposed to find us watching Alex ski joring in Minturn outside of Vail. Due to mysterious reasons the event was canceled and we didn't get to see Alex on skis, being towed by a galloping horse, all the while going over small jumps and collecting large rings on his arms. Another event is scheduled next weekend in Leadville which we won't be able to attend. I will have to find someone else that can feed this horse carrots and apples and stroke his nose, and tell him to gallop carefully and straight while pulling my crazy son behind him.

In any case, we decided to still drive to Vail and see Alex Odie San Odenator or whatever name he is currently going by, because, we, well, we miss him. So Sunday afternoon found us packing Freddie in the car along with coffee mocha cookies and cookie dough filled fudge brownies and other alcohol related goodies, and driving to see Alex. As you must know by now there is never a dull moment when Alex Odie San Odenator is around. And this weekend did not disappoint.

After seeing his current accommodations which are quite unique and located in the center of Vail Village with parking and laundry, don't you know, the parental units gave their stamp of approval. Alex Odie San Odenator scored again. That is if little Freddie didn't get him kicked out by barking when we went out for three hours for dinner. Apparently, the landlord doesn't approve of cute little dogs even if they only stay for three hours. And it is apparent that said landlord does not approve of much except intimidation. He can contact my attorney as text messages to my son with four letter words in them don't solve anything. And besides anyone that knows anything, knows that using four letter words is a sign of someone that doesn't have a very good vocabulary. Or much class. But we won't go there.


Well, Sunday night found us dining at Matsuhisa that Alex Odie San Odenator works at. Only last night he wasn't working. He was dining in fine style accompanied by his loving parents. And what a treat we three had. After handing over a fine mix of fudge brownies and coffee mocha cookies we were led to the sushi bar in this enormous restaurant. The sushi bar is small and quiet and fun and we were able to visit with the sushi chefs as they worked. It was also one way to the kitchen where numerous friends of Alex Odie San Odenator emerged and popped by to say how good these treats were. And also to say how great Alex Odie San Odenator is. Besides basking in the glow of the awesome food coming our way I was certainly basking in the glow of having such an awesome son. And it wasn't even Mother's Day! (Motto: Always bring cookies!)

I can't wait to tell you about the amazing delicacies we ate at Matsuhisa, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Today I must announce the winner of the Whole Foods giveaway. I seem to be falling behind here but I have a new system now that should allow me to post regularly and timely. It involves organization and I think I'm starting to catch on. But don't hold me to it! 

My guess is you'll want the recipe for these fudge brownies. If you are the cakey type, you won't. I baked these brownies in a 15x10 pan on parchment paper in order to be able to cut the brownies in half and stack them after filling. These can also be baked in a 13x9 pan which will give you a thicker, more substantial brownie. One need not fill these. One could just eat the filling without the brownies. (You know who you are, don't you?) Or the brownies without the filling. Any way you choose you can't go wrong.


The brownies on their own are quite amazing. Chilling them after cooling produces a great fudge texture. So if you can hold off, definitely go for the chill. Of course, you could also fill them with the butterscotch from the preceding recipe. The possibilities are endless. I made them like this because Alex Odie San Odenator loves cookie dough and brownies. Being the kind person that I am, I try to accommodate.

Being the unkind person that he is-meaning the above mentioned landlord- well, Alex Odie San Odenator is under strict orders to not share. Especially with those who use four letter words about very cute little dogs.

Tune in tomorrow for more about Matsuhisa and our incredible meal. And also get the recipe for some insanely simple coffee mocha cookies. Paul Prudhomme approved-no less! Yes, we are moving into Cajun week!

 So, on a need to know basis-who would you not give cookies, to? This is between you and me, OK?

The winner of the $25 Whole Foods giveaway is Kyl Neusch. Enjoy! And thanks for reading!



Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Cookie Dough Filling
Yield - 1 13x9 pan or 1 15x10 pan or 24-32 brownies
Total Time - 45 minutes not including cooling time

Ingredients:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c dark chocolate chips
1 stick butter
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 c flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 15x10 pan with parchment paper. You could also grease with butter and dust with flour but it is easier to cut the brownies if you lift them out of the pan.

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat while stirring to avoid scorching. Let cool in pan to room temperature. Beat eggs and salt until yolk is incorporated. If you want a lighter, brownie, beat this mixture until light and fluffy, but I like a dense, chewy, fudgey brownie! Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir this into the cooled chocolate mixture. Then add flour and fold until gently combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake about 20 minutes. If you stick a toothpick in it will come out with batter on it. Just make sure that the batter is well set before pulling from oven. The top should be shiny and puffy. Let cool on counter and then refrigerate over night.

Cookie Dough Filling:
Ingredients:
1 stick butter, soft and at room temperature
1 c brown sugar
1 T vanilla
1 t salt
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c chocolate chips

Directions:
Mix butter and brown sugar until sugar and butter are one. Add vanilla and salt. Stir in. Now slowly stir in powdered sugar and chips until well combined. This should be spreadable and not too thick. Do not eat out of bowl with fingers or there will not be enough for the brownies!

Assembly:
Take pan of brownies from fridge. (You didn't rush this, did you?) Remove  from pan by lifting parchment and placing on counter. Now slice in half down the center of the pan width wise. You should have two sides about 7x10. Spread filling on one half. Top with other half up, shiny side up. Press down a bit and slice into small bars. This is rich, people! 

More fun food to try:
Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
King Cake
Cajun Potatoes
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Tart or Gone, But Not Forgotten


Somehow it is Tuesday and I am still feeling Monday. Which means I am feeling a bit disorganized, but you know me by now, to know that don't you? My weekend was fine, actually more than fine. Saturday found me at the Denver Dog Show looking at these.


I'm in deep trouble, I know. Zoe had checked out Skye terriers (without me knowing) on Facebook and found a breeder that might be able to help me out. Not that I'm sure I'm ready to be helped yet, but Zoe is ready for me to be.  After looking at these beautiful faces, well you must agree that these might be a bit hard to resist. George was a midnight black male but the same litters also produce white Skyes with these gorgeous black muzzles and ears. Since I've had two black ones it could be nice to switch it up a bit. But not yet. I'm still missing George, though Skyes are hard to come by. One must plan ahead and throw your number in the hat, so to speak. They are actually considered a protected breed because there are so few of them.

Yes, that was a fun surprise on Saturday though it brought up a slew of emotions. Manservant was hungry after the show so we followed up with Mexican food. And then we followed the Mexican food with beer. Yup. There is a brewery right off of I25 that Manservant decided we should check out. After all, we don't get down that way often. So we did. Check it out, that is. Just tasters, but they were fun even though in Manservant's opinion we've had better.  So no growlers came home with us, but I sure had an unexpected, fun day!

That night we were invited to a friend's home for dinner. It was a rustic, heavenly dinner, that began with lots of superb wine and and an addicting little garlic dip. Ribollita (an Italian soup with a base of bread and beans and greens)  was the main course. So soothing and comforting and topped off with olive oil and parmesan cheese, this really hit the spot. Yum, yum!  After dessert Manservant and friend switched to what he declared as awesome tequila and I was offered a Shalaylee which was new to me.  We were out until midnight and didn't turn into pumpkins! But Freddie sure was happy to see us arrive home safely!


I did manage to bring dessert as I had  three quarters of a pan of this decadent salted butterscotch, chocolate tart left from Valentine's Day. Oh baby. Don't hate me for this. Damn, but this is a rich confection. I willingly gave the rest to our friends to have as it was too over the top for me. I must confess though that when I started editing this tart's photos, I really wanted another bite. But you know how one bite leads to another? Well, that is the reason I gave it to them. Let them throw it away, but I knew this was like a preapproved credit card if left in my hands and there would be nothing left. And they are the ones on Weight Watchers. Oh, I am feeling so guilty now. I even went to the Weight Watcher's site and yes, I must do this, too.

But back to this tart. This totally decadent, luscious, sinful tart was perfect for Valentine's Day. One bite as it slowly slides across your tongue can produce a sigh that might be mistaken for another kind of sigh. The kind of satiated sigh that comes with a sense of great relief but always leaves you wanting more. This is a dessert that one eats slow and savors and wants never to end, but prays that it does quickly.  You might pass out from the feeling of fullness that this tart leaves in your mouth, in your head, in your tummy. This is the kind of tart that one leaves behind for fear of getting overly involved. Yes, this tart is a tart! Of heavenly proportions. Maybe left behind, but never, ever forgotten!



Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Tart in a Shortbread Crust
Adapted From: Bold - Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise
Yield: 8 servings

Shortbread Crust
Ingredients:
3/4 c unbleached flour
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 375. Combine, flour, powdered sugar and butter cubes, in a small bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until mixture is pebbly and holds together when gathered. With floured fingers, press the dough across the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan or a removable bottom tart pan. Place in preheated oven and bake until golden brown and crisp, 18-20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients:
1 c heavy whipping cream
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1 inch chunks
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until beginning to steam. Do not let it boil. Add the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and glossy, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the egg, remove the pan from the heat, and set mixture aside to cool and thicken slightly, about 5 minutes.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the cooled crust and bake until firm at 375 for about 15 minutes. Center should still be a bit moist when a knife is inserted into it. Let cool until it is no longer piping hot.

Espresso Butterscotch
Ingredients:
1 c packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 t vanilla extract
1/4 c brewed espresso
4 T butter, cut into cubes
3/4 c whipping heavy cream
1/4 t kosher salt
Maldon salt flakes for topping (optional)

Place the sugar and the vanilla in a medium sized, heavy pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is very soft and fragrant and beginning to melt, about 5 minutes. Add the coffee and butter and stir until the mixture is well blended, about two minutes.

Add the cream and kosher salt and bring to a simmer. This might hiss and sputter like a left behind tart but just keep stirring until the sauce is the consistency of thick honey, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and take out the vanilla pod, if used.  If this gets too thick upon standing just stir in more heavy cream and heat in the micro on low until this gets good and saucey.

Now take this saucey sauce and pour over your chocolate filling. Spread evenly across the top. If your butterscotch is runny, it will thicken with refrigeration. Sprinkle with salt flakes if you'd like. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to 3 days. After I refrigerated this, I kept it at room temperature and enjoyed it much more than when it was cold.


More February Recipes:
Mussels and Fries
Sage Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad
Not My Mama's Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken, Artichoke, Mushroom Casserole
Spaghetti Bolognese
Brazilian Coconut Lime Shrimp Stew
Not My Mama's Cherry Pie

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Macho Salad..I Mean, Really?


I've never thought of salad as feminine or masculine. Salad isn't quiche-remember how real men don't eat quiche? Or did they eat quiche? That was a long time ago. I can understand that a salad such as a pretty Bibb lettuce salad tossed with tiny mandarin oranges, sprinkled with lightly toasted almonds might be considered a bit more feminine then say, a taco salad loaded with meat. Does that make a Caesar salad, neutral territory? 

But a macho salad? I didn't name this beast. I ate this eons ago at a restaurant that I think is now nonexistent. Yes, I ordered the macho salad but there were no machos that came with it. Just salad. I shouldn't say that. This is a salad that even a macho would eat. And whether you are or you aren't, a macho that is, this salad is, and it is good.



Let's get something straight here. I'm not a macho lover. But I think we've already figured out that I am a Macho Salad lover. So just who is a macho? We all know the song, "Macho Man" by the Village People, right? (True confession... for a long time I though they were saying Nacho Man and I love those.)  But check out this description from the urban free dictionary for the word macho:

male who cannot "lose face" in front of his mates or women. most macho men have the emotional range of a teaspoon and have enough empathy to fill the ink tube in a pen. 

Enough said, right? But then there is this:

macho men find any contact with other males to be of "homosexual" nature, with the exception of the "manly handshake". 



But back to salad..I don't know how I remembered this salad, but it's been planted in my mind for awhile. Maybe it's the sweet cornbread croutons that offset the tanginess of the dressing. Or perhaps the dates off set the goat cheese. And the roasted chicken helps tie everything together. Or is that the avocado that does that? Though you must know that this dressing would taste good on any salad-even one of the feminine variety. 

My Manservant loves this salad and seeing how it is now about 60 degrees in Denver, even though the mountains are still being pounded by snow, last night was perfect for a salad. A manly salad. And I only say manly, because it was devoured by my man. I have yet to figure out why if I serve a salad with a meal, he saves it until the end and quite often doesn't eat it. Whereas, if I serve it as a main course, he loves it! Well, thank goodness for this! 

I think even this macho man would eat this salad.



 Or perhaps this macho in training.


Speaking of which, last night I skipped watching the Olympics to watch the Beatles. Ohhhh. Now that was a good show. Did you see it? And I ate this Macho salad before I sat down to watch TV. And that is all I have to say about salad. Now I'm going to get my hair colored, because if there is such a thing as a Macho woman, well, that's not me!


Macho Salad 

Yield: 2 Macho Sized Servings
Total Time: About 25 minutes

Ingredients:

Dressing:
1 t spicy brown mustard
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 t brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything except olive oil in a bowl or a 2 c measuring cup. Mix well. (I use the measuring cup because it is easy to pour when it is finished.)
Now drizzle in the olive oil and using a mini whisk, slowly blend the oil into the vinegar mixture to create an emulsion.

(We used all the dressing, but you may have a lighter hand than we do.)

Salad:
4x6" square of cornbread cut into big cubes (Bake these in 1 T olive oil in a 300 oven for about 20 minutes until they dry out and become croutons. Stir occasionally and don't let them burn)
3 1/2 c of greens (I used spinach and arugula)
1 c shredded roasted chicken (I use deli chicken if I don't have leftovers)
10 baby tomatoes quartered or halved
2 t shopped dates or golden raisins
1/2 of an avocado cubed
1/2 c sliced almonds
2 oz goat or feta cheese
2 green onions sliced thin
1/3 c drained corn  or fresh if you have it

Mix all together and toss with dressing. Serve to a macho man-or not!


More Valentine's Day recipes:





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lemon Rose Madeleines, #Fair Trade Roses and a #Whole Foods #Giveaway


Today everything is coming up roses. I wish I could believe that, but it is nice to look over and see a dozen, deep red roses staring me in the face. As many of you know the last two weeks have been tough for me  and flowers are a great way to brighten anyone's day. Whole Foods provided me with a dozen roses this month and is offering a $25 gift card so that you can go buy your own. You could use it on whatever you want but I must say that the roses are gorgeous and everyone deserves roses now and then, don't they?

 Little did I know that I'd be finishing one giveaway and starting another, but that's what's happening, so let's go with it! The winner for last month's $25 gift card is  Jennifer Reed who likes salmon! And I hope you tried the paiche. It is really a great fish and one I could eat a lot of. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and not even slightly energetic but let me start by saying thanks to everyone for your condolences. I really had no idea there were so many kind people out there reading my crazy blog. I'm so thankful for all of you and your encouraging and thoughtful words really brightened my day.  Now it is time to get going and get up and get dressed and face some new challenges. What better way to do that than with a gorgeous bunch of flowers staring me in the face? 


These aren't just any flowers. These are Fair Trade flowers and by giving them you are also helping those that are growing them. From the Whole Foods website:

The Whole Trade® Guarantee seal means these flowers meet specific criteria including:
  • Meets our product Quality Standards
  • Provides more money to producers
  • Ensures better wages and working conditions for workers
  • Cares for the environment
  • Donates 1% of sales to Whole Planet Foundation®
Additionally , children are often provided with schooling under the social premium that is paid for each case of flowers shipped. Not a bad deal when you think about it. Someone you care for gets roses and someone you don't know, gets to go to school. Makes me feel good!

My local Whole Foods at Southglenn has a great deal for those who live nearby. On the 12th, 13th, and 14th they are offering a dozen roses for $9.99! You can't beat that. And they are enormous and lovely and will bring a smile to anyone's face. Even mine! I don't know what your local store is doing but check it out. And buy them quickly. One year my husband missed out and came home with a dozen dried roses. I asked him why he was coming home with dead roses. He said that was all they had. Just maybe he should have planned a little bit ahead?


Nothing goes better with roses than someone you love and quite possibly, these cookies. After all, I am a cookie girl, you know that don't you? I found this recipe in the Wall Street Journal and though it was a poorly written recipe, after I deciphered it, I must say they came out delicious. I wish my Zoe was nearby because she loves Madeleines. When she was a little girl she used to go with her dad to Starbucks and order hot chocolate and a Madeleine.

Then when she was in 8th grade she had a French teacher that gave the kids a Madeleine recipe written in French and gave the kids extra credit if they made them. After buying the Madeleine pan, we did succeed in making them and I think she received an A on that assignment.  If you happen to have the pan, these are a fun treat to make but they also work well in mini muffin tins, too.


Madeleines are like little sponge cakes but disguised as a cookie. They are perfect with a cup of tea. They aren't overly sweet and delightful for that little pick me up we all need during the day. These Madeleines have a touch of rose in them, but not too much. I did gild them with a powdered sugar glaze that I flavored with more rosewater. You could also use orange water and orange zest, or you could leave it out. I happen to think though that the rosewater gives that little something extra-the intriguing, exotic, what is that taste that makes you take another bite, and then another, until you've either figured it out or it's gone!

Match the tea to the Madeleine and look for something lemony. My favorite though is Earl Grey and as far as I'm concerned Earl goes with anything. Of course you could really surprise your loved one if you added in some chocolate and champagne and a night of romance. But there's no point in overdoing it is there? Trust me, roses and cookies could knock anyone's socks off! (Thanks for that, Mr. KR!)

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift cards to help fill your basket.  All opinions expressed are mine, baby. All mine. This giveaway is easy to enter as long as you live in the US. Giveaway closes on February 23rd. Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner or tune in on February 24th to see if you won! (And please, if you have a common name, you need to give me a hint like Sue from Sioux City or something like that, or an email address to reach you) The winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! So now, to enter: (dahdah, dah, dah, de DAH!) Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me what your favorite Valentine's Day recipe is! Enter again by following me on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter. I'd love you to subscribe. Hey, I'll give you 2 entries for subscribing!



Lemon Rose Madeleines

Yield: About 18
Total Time: 25 minutes
Adapted From: Wall Street Journal

Ingredients:
3 T unsalted butter melted to grease pan
6 T melted unsalted butter
2 t lemon zest or zest of 1 large lemon
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 c sugar plus 1 T
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t rose water
1 c sifted cake flour
1/2 t baking powder
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.

Brush Madeleine tin with melted butter and dust lightly with flour. Some butter will be left for the second batch.

Melt 6 T butter and stir in lemon zest. Let cool to room temperature.

In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until very light and lemony in color but thick in consistency, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and rose water and mix for about 10 seconds.

While eggs and sugar are beating, mix flour, baking powder and salt. When egg mixture is ready, sift half of flour mixture over and fold gently into batter. Now do that with the other half.

Gently fold in cooled, melted butter until incorporated into batter.

Using a tablespoon, scoop into prepared tin. Bake until center of cookie springs back to the touch and edges are golden brown. 8-11 minutes does the trick. Let sit in pan to cool for 5 minutes then turn on a rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar or glaze or both! Wash tin, butter and flour again, and repeat.



More Valentine's Day recipes:






Thursday, February 6, 2014

George, King of Skyes and a Baby Burger


If you are a regular reader you might know that this blog began as a way to record recipes for my kids. And stories. And stuff. So this is a spoiler alert. There isn't really a recipe here unless you consider it a recipe for love. It's a real simple recipe. It requires 1 black Skye Terrier and a family of four. That's it. Plus about 11 years. That flew by. And also seemed to take forever. What a contradiction, I know. They were years of happiness and years of pain. The kids grew and my husband struggled. But we've weathered the course, and begun anew. And George saw it all.

George flew to us at the age of eight weeks in March of 2003. It took forever for me to find a Skye terrier puppy, but I did. And though he never replaced our other Skye, he carved a new spot in our heart. He arrived here in a crate with black furry ears that were as long as his length. He came with the name George and we never saw fit to change it. He was a George. A King George. And he quickly ruled the roost.




He loved to play tug of war. And he always won. He discovered snakes in our garden and came running at me with one in his mouth. I screamed. He freaked. I think it was the last time he caught one. He chewed up our rug. He acted like he owned our furniture. And being good, responsible pet owners, we allowed it. He attempted to jump on the bed but didn't quite make it and never tried again-except once.  I'll tell you about it later.


He couldn't climb stairs. Or go up stairs. He was too long. And it freaked him. George was 36 inches long and 10 inches tall and weighed about 45 pounds. He had long, lustrous black hair and giant pointed ears. His eyes were pools of chocolate. They were gentle and dreamy and easy to lose yourself in. I often wondered what went on in his head. But I think I know.  His job was to keep us safe.


He worked hard at that. Whenever I worked in my studio, George would trot out the upstairs door, run down the lawnmower ramp and meet me downstairs. He always met me with a giant bark. George had a very big bark and if you ever rang our doorbell, you knew. George loved to bark. I think he considered that another mission in life.




George loved us and was loyal beyond belief. When Alex was younger and had many visiting friends, George always let them know who was boss. He would chase them into the basement and then bark at them while also trying to grab their feet. These were big guys and George let them know who was in charge. Trust me. When you see a long black dog with giant canines running after your feet, well, it can be a bit intimidating.


George was not a foodie. But he loved meat. He loved his baby burgers and whenever the grill was being fired up, he never left my side. But honestly, he really never left my side. He was my barometer and if George was good, then I was good. If I wasn't good, George wasn't good. He became anxious and protective.


George was the first puppy I had as an adult. Actually, he was the only puppy I saw make it to adulthood. I had puppies as a child but my father was not a good puppy man. He liked his rugs and furniture. And so, many of my pups found other homes. After Mitzi and Pussy and Peppy and Cokie and Clarence and Angel and Jangles and Honey and Reggie and Brady and Chelsea, well, then there was George. It took a lot of years to get ready for him. It will take a lot of years to let him go.




George filled my heart when my kids left for college. He filled my heart when my husband left the next day. Without George I'm not sure I would have made it through. Some days were tough. I was lonely.  George filled my void. He made me get up in the morning. He made sure I got up in the morning. He slept on my bed. He listened for sounds at night. He listened to me rant. He listened to me sing. He listened when no one else was there.


George was my dog. But I was his human. Some people say that dogs are just animals. They are so wrong. George was a reason for my being.


For 11 years I've had a bathroom buddy. George always came to me for a pet as I sat on the throne of thrones. He laid next to the shower door as I took my shower. Or he poked his  big, black nose in through the opening between the wall and the pocket door. George was always there.


The funny thing is that George never learned how to push a door open with his nose. But that never stopped him from being close. Patience was his middle name. He always stood guard if I was behind that door. And if Zoe was home he always kept an eye on her door, too. He adored his Zoe. She was his princess and he was the king.







When we walked on the canal people always were intrigued. Imagine a dog not 10 inches from the ground, proudly parading with his tail wagging and bouncing behind him and all that gorgeous black hair dragging in the dirt. They often commented that he looked like a giant dust mop coming in their direction. George always illicited a comment. He was just that kind of boy dog. (The last time I was at the vet's two people took his picture.)


George had a quiet presence. He greeted you with exuberance and often scared friends with his loud bark. He also liked to jump up and George was not just tall, but he was big. After the visitor made it inside and George had his prerequisite sniff, George would calm down. But he was always in the room with me. He loved visitors and always anticipated their arrival by barking before they came. 


After a few years with the kids and Manservant being gone, I decided to add to our family. We adopted a Havanese that was as tall as George but probably 1/3 of his length. George never liked big dogs and always showed them who was boss, which wasn't always such a good thing... Freddie was the perfect size for George and he adopted her quite easily.  George took care of Freddie. He licked her ears that had countless ear infections. He played with her which was a miraculous thing to watch, as Freddie was not intimidated by George's size. And this from a little dog with only one eye!




With Freddie as a new addition, George had to compete for our attention. He did it quietly and with great grace. Freddie loves to play and is forever bringing us the tennis ball to throw. George often brought the ball, to us too. But not to play. He just wanted attention. That was his way of showing  that he needed us too. But in his younger days there were those games of tug of war with the tennis ball. George loved it if you tried to pull the ball from his mouth; though not everyone loved to stick their hands into that giant mouth with such big teeth. He never figured that out.


George woke me every morning. He greeted me by placing his front paws on the bed and sighing. And when I looked over he practically crawled on the bed to kiss me and smell my eyes. He wagged graciously and the moment my feet touched the ground he bounded through the house to be let outside. Freddie always followed and George always went out the door first, but Freddie always made it off the deck before George. Long bodies do  not necessarily equate with speed.

But that never stopped George from trying. He loved to chase rabbits. Much to Manservant's chagrin though, he never caught them. He spotted them as he sat on the deck and then quickly bounded down the lawnmower ramp to get into the lower yard. Sometimes there would be as many as four and they would scatter quite rapidly as George approached. He never knew what direction to run or turn.  But boy, did he bark! He would then come trotting back up with his proud gait as if to say, "I took care of them this time, Mom!".





When it came to food, George was gentle. You could leave George's food out all day and he'd only take what he wanted. But with the addition of Freddie I always had to make sure that George got his share because Freddie would do anything to get food. George loved treats, but savored them, and he ate cookies very slow. He relished them, where as Freddie wolfed them down. She ate so fast and if she could get one down fast enough she stole George's out from under his nose. He never seemed to care. But he always looked a bit befuddled wondering where the damn thing went. George was gentle and polite and gracious when it came to food.

Manservant often complained that George was always between us. He did lay between us on the bed and he always stood between us during an argument. The only time that George jumped on the bed was when I was laying on Zoe's bed and sobbing my eyes out. He knew I was in trouble and in one giant leap, he jumped on the bed. A twin bed. It almost wasn't big enough to hold him. But in my shock of him jumping, I stopped crying and truly realized the power that this dog held. He worked his magic in mysterious ways.

George was a greeter. Walmart greeters should take lessons. He always said goodbye and he always said hello. He would meet me at the door with an enormous, loud, very loud bark and jump up to kiss me on my nose. Keep in mind that this was also whenever I went just to check the mail. Some might say it was because I always gave him a cookie when I left and when I came home. I choose to believe that George was just happy to see me.




George knew when he was a bad boy. He knew how to talk back. If he accidentally nipped you in rough play and you screeched, George would screech right back in that high pitched bark he had. He knew. But he also knew that he was talking back. And George always talked back.


Brushing him was a chore, though it was not hard to brush him. George's hair was like people's hair and fairly easy to comb. However if I did manage to snag him he always showed me his teeth. And sometimes he would try to nip me. (I know if he wanted to get me, he could have.) And when I made him turn around on the table, he did it grudgingly and he always gave me that bark. First a big, gruff bark, and then a high pitched bark, and then he'd stick his massive head with those big brown eyes into my face and lick it.  He was sorry for being mean. Really sorry. And he would feel really, really bad.   And the funny thing is that I knew he really did.


As much as George hated little aches and pains, during this last week I've never seen a stronger, more stoic dog. He tolerated not breathing until he couldn't tolerate it anymore. Even in his last hour he barked at the boy walking down the sidewalk. He barked when the vet walked in the door. George was protecting his turf. George was protecting me.






Even Manservant was allowed to pet George in those last days. George always knew Manservant loved him but I'm not sure that Manservant knew how much he loved George.


George had a love/hate relationship with Alex. When Alex was younger and came into the bedroom to tell me good night, George would chase him out the door, nipping at his heels. He stopped as he approached middle age and we never quite knew why. I think it was because George wanted me all for himself. Or maybe it was his way of saying to Alex, "Hey, I've got my eye on you." I'm not sure we'll ever know but I'm also not sure that Alex will ever stopping looking both ways before he leaves our bedroom.


What I do know is that George loved to be on the bed. In his next life I hope he comes back as a lap dog. When he was sitting with you he wasn't just sitting with you. He was sitting on you. He was in charge of you. He wanted your full, undivided attention and he made sure you knew it. He laid on you. He sat on you; until he got too hot and moved off. It was hard to read or watch TV if George was near. Those quiet times were his favorite times. Once you were in one spot it was like an invitation that George took advantage of. He had you where he wanted you.




It was just a week ago Wednesday that I took George to see Jeff and David, our beloved vets. They've seen a lot of George lately. It was last year that we discovered George had Cushing's disease. I thought we were going to lose him then. George had never been sick a day in his life and that scared me. But these guys figured it out and with some expensive meds, George was fine. So last week when George was panting and stopped eating, I decided we best get him to his friends.


After not too many tests, it was discovered that George had lung cancer. It probably spread from somewhere else. There wasn't a great need to find out as at that point there was nothing we could do. Nothing except try to get him to eat. Nothing except try to make him comfortable. Nothing except to love him and pet him and sleep with him. There was nothing we could do.


George did it all. He went for 2 1/2 days without eating last week and last Friday he had his last meal of roast chicken. By yesterday I knew it was time. Imagine being suffocated for days on end. That's what George was experiencing. He couldn't catch his breath. But he never showed fear. He never showed pain. He only showed concern for us as if to question what all this fuss was about. And so he took care of me. Until the end. Jeff suggested that maybe George knew his job was done. After all, my manservant is embarking on a new job with a new beginning. George got me to this new beginning. Maybe George knew. Maybe George didn't. George was just doing his job.



Last night was lonely. Last night he wasn't there. When I woke during the night his furry black body wasn't laying in the bed beside me.  He didn't get out of it when I walked to the bathroom. He didn't come to the throne to receive his pet. He was gone. And he fought it until he just couldn't fight it anymore. He was my champ. He was my giant dog that stood ten inches tall. He was my king. He was my dog. And I was his human.




A Baby Burger

Yield:  1 serving
Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/8 lb of grass fed beef
1/2 T of butter
Salt to taste

Form beef into a patty. Pan fry or grill until medium rare. Crumble into pieces. Serve to a treasured member of your family. Pet them and tell them you love them.