At this point it seems easier to post by the week since the pool is really moving along! They finished the framing, applied the gunite, which is the cement that is blown in to form the pool and back filled, so we now have a yard once again. The dogs, Stuart, Cooper and Riley are happiest of all. The Cavalier’s who are more adventuresome, both have climbed down the steps into the empty pool. Looking at it, we almost feel like we could be going swimming before the really hot weather arrives. Rich is also really excited about the pool and vows to swim everyday. As you can see, he is already getting started!
It’s been five years since we moved to South Florida from the cold north. During that time I’ve worked five seasons as a chef in Palm Beach, and Rich has built up a thriving private psychotherapy practice when he’s not “playing the best tennis of his life.”
We bought a cute little house in downtown West Palm Beach and live a mile from the ocean just down the street from the intracoastal. Who though, can live year round in Florida without a way to escape the summer heat? Where would we entertain our future grandchildren? So began our quest for a pool.
The lesson is though, that in a home improvement project, one thing always leads to 10 more things. Starting out, our first lesson was that the power lines in our yard would be directly over the pool, a bit of a safety problem, so after consulting, estimates and anxiety, we decided to bury them underground… We live on an alley though and our driveway is in the back yard. The pole for the power lines also, is located on the pole was on the other side of the alley, so we needed a permit to dig it up. Many months later, that part of the job is finally done! We have more electric amps, power outside (yes, we had no power outside) and it looks like we are ready to go.
After talking with quite a few pool builders, we put our faith in Cushing Pools of Wellington.
It’s the coldest day in about a year, probably in the 50’s all day with a really cold wind, making it feel much colder, but today the demolition began. Stuart who is always hunting for lizards is really checking out the piles.
I’ve had a few requests to post some tips on knife sharpening. This is something that people who cook for a living take for granted, but it’s one of the most valuable things you can do to make cooking more efficient and more enjoyable.
I only use three knives in my home kitchen, a santoku knife, a pairing knife, and a bread knife. My favorite is a santoku, a medium sized knife that’s great for cutting up almost everything, vegetables, meat and fish. I also think a good steel can’t be overrated. The one I use, I purchased from cutleryandmore.com. They have really good prices and fast shipping. I only paid about $25.00 for it and it’s worth every penny.
When using the steel to sharpen your knife, hold the steel in one hand and the knife in another. At a 20 degree angle, run the knife down the steel. Then turn the knife and do the other side. To test sharpness, try cutting something like a tomato that requires a sharp knife. It should cut easily and cleanly. I use my steel every time I cook, and I give the knife about 10 runs on each side. This keeps it nice and sharp.
We live in a 50 year old Spanish style Florida ranch in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida. I don’t have a bit fancy kitchen, or even a modern kitchen, but I do have a lovely view of palm trees right outside my brand new windows. Someday, we will update the kitchen, but in the meantime, I have a small oven, old cabinets and turquoise counters (yes, I said turquoise, I didn’t even know they made laminate in that color!) But, what I love about my kitchen is the size; I wouldn’t want it any bigger. Since I cook in about 4 square feet of it anyway, I don’t have to move far to get to anything, which makes it really convenient.
Caesar Salad with homemade Dressing
Caesar dressing is never that good when you buy it in the store. This recipe is quick and really great. Tossed with romaine lettuce, croutons and some parmesan cheese, it’s a great salad for almost any meal, chicken, steak, or all by itself, with grilled shrimp or chicken on top. This recipe is adapted from the the caesar dressing at the Brooklyn restaurant Prime Meats.
1/4 c mayonnaise
3 tbs. freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp anchovy paste or 1 fresh anchovy filet
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, smashed
dash of worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tbs water
Place the garlic in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to puree it up. Add all of the remaining ingredients and blend till combined. Add the water slowly to obtain the correct consistency.
To make the croutons, cut up old bread, hot dog buns or anything leftover into small squares. Toss these with olive oil, salt, pepper and onion and garlic powder. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until nice and crispy. This should take at least 15 minutes, but check them often so they don’t burn.
For the salad, cut up romaine lettuce, toss with the dressing, add grated parmesan cheese, croutons, salt and pepper and enjoy.
This is a great seasonal dish which is really easy, tastes wonderful and goes with everything, burgers, steaks or fish. Bacon could easily be substituted for the pancetta. Fresh corn is best, and this is the time to buy and enjoy it.
This recipe is adapted from a published recipe in Bon Appetit magazine that is always loaded with ideas.
4 ears of fresh corn
1/4 lb. of pancetta diced or about 4-5 slices of bacon diced
1 tbs. minced shallot
1 clove minced garlic
red pepper flakes
1. Husk corn and boil a pot of salted water. Cook corn about 7-8 minutes till tender. Reserve some of the cooking liquid. Cool, and cut the corn off the cobs.
2. Dice the pancetta or bacon into small pieces and render till crisp in a saute pan. Add the minced garlic and shallot to the pan and saute a few minutes. Add the corn and saute. Stir in a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid from the corn along with about a teaspoon of butter. Once everything is absorbed, season with salt, pepper, minced herbs, and a little red pepper flakes if you would like some heat.
For my first blog, I want to thank my daughter Abbie, for all of her technical assistance in setting everything up for me during her recent visit to Florida. I also have to thank my husband Rich for his ongoing love and patience through all the changes of our lives.
This recipe has several components. Some could be made separately, such as the pesto, which is just a good, basic pesto recipe. The Beurre Blanc Sauce also has numerous uses.
1 bunch basil, stems removed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove peeled garlic, smashed
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1. Toast pine nuts in the oven on a baking sheet for about 6-7 minutes at 300 degrees. If they aren’t quite brown enough continue for a few minutes longer. I don’t recommend toasting them on the stove, they always get burned that way.
2. Place basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic clove and a small amount of oil in food processor and blend to chop everything up. Slowly add more oil until desired consistency. For this recipe the pesto should be fairly smooth. Season with Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.
This part of the recipe can be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. The extra pesto can also be used for other dishes, such as pasta with chicken and it is a great dip.
Beurre Blanc Sauce
1 Shallot, small diced
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1. Saute the shallot in oil or butter until translucent, only a minute or two, it will burn quickly.
2. Add the white wine and reduce the mixture until there are only a few tablespoons of wine remaining.
3. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Bring it to a slow boil and then slowly whisk in the butter pieces, 1-2 at a time. Season with salt to taste and add then add the prepared pesto into the buerre blanc sauce. It doesn’t all need to be added in, just enough for the color and flavor you want.
This sauce can be used for many dishes, especially, pasta and fish. It’s very popular to add a little lemon juice and make lemon beurre blanc, or a little red wine and you have rouge beurre blanc.
Ravioli with Goat Cheese, Spinach and Sundried Tomato
1 pkg. Wonton Wrappers
1 egg and 1 tsp water
1 pkg. of Goat Cheese, softened
1/2 bag Baby Spinach
1. Cook the spinach in a saute pan. To cook spinach, heat a saute pan on the stove and add a tbs. or so of canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the spinach, season with salt and it will begin to wilt, toss occasionally to move it around the pan. When done, remove it from the skillet and place in a colander to drain.
2. Dice about 10 sun dried tomatoes into small pieces
3. Place softened goat cheese, sun dried tomato, and spinach in a food processor and blend together to a smooth consistency.
3. Spread the desired number of wonton wrappers out on the counter. A good portion would be 8-10 per person.
Paint the sides of the wrappers with the egg wash, using a pastry brush. Place a small amount of goat cheese mixture on the center of the wrapper, about a tablespoon. Place a second wrapper on top of each and press firmly to secure the wrappers.
These can be made a day ahead, covered and placed in the fridge on a baking sheet.
4. Cook the ravioli’s in salted water for a few minutes. Drain and serve with the beurre blanc pesto sauce. Garnish with some fresh basil and pine nuts.