Looks are Deceiving!

George and I belong to a gourmet group here in Corrales.  The group consists of four couples who meet on a somewhat regular basis – once every couple of months depending on travel schedules – for dinner.  We have four courses; appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. Host duties rotate through the group.  The host couple, who is responsible for the entrée, pick the cuisine and may or may not offer recipes.  Responsibility for the remaining three courses are selected by the remaining couples on a fist come first served basis.

Last night our group met for a Basque themed meal. Our hostess let us select our own recipes based on the theme.  I had the salad course.  After some research I discovered that most Basque salads consist of chopped vegetables with an oil and lemon based dressing or a mayonnaise type dressing with a lot of garlic.   The recipe I selected used the oil and lemon dressing and consisted of the following items:

  • 6 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 green peppers, seeds and membranes removed then diced
  • 1 red onion diced
  • oregano
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs – whites diced and cooked yolk pushed through a sieve
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 3 tbl lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Seems pretty easy doesn’t it?  Well it is but it’s not fast.  I won’t count the time it took to boil the egg but the rest of the prep took 90 minutes!   I’ve been told by a professional chef that I have good knife skills so I can dice pretty quickly.  Still took me 90 minutes. I finished with just enough time to change clothes and do my hair and make-up before we had to leave to arrive at the appointed hour.

Since the salad had to be transported and wouldn’t be served until about 45 minutes after we arrived, I wanted to delay putting it all together until the very end.  As the cucumber was seeded and the onion and green pepper have little to no moisture, I decided to toss those ingredients along with the oregano in a large bowl.  I really didn’t want to add the tomato until the last minute so I put a layer of plastic wrap over the tossed ingredients, mounded the tomato on top of the plastic wrap and covered the bowl with another piece of plastic wrap to transport.  The chopped egg white and sieved egg yolk went into their own separate containers and the dressing, having been made ahead of time, was transported in its own container.   Just before serving I removed the plastic wrap from under the tomatoes, and tossed it all with the dressing.

I have to admit the completed salad, is served mounded on a platter and garnished with the egg whites, almonds and topped with the sieved egg, look really impressive and tasted great.

I’ll definitely make this again but I may start a bit sooner!


Posted in Cooking, Food, International Cuisines, Recipes, Salad, sides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Honor of My Sister

Anyone who knows my sister, Linda,  knows she loves France, or more accurately, Paris, France. And while I only dream of dining in Paris she has done it on several occasions. But I love to indulge in French cooking.  French cookbooks take up the largest percentage of my cookbook collection.  You can just imagine my excitement when the May issue of Saveur arrived in my mailbox!  A WHOLE issue dedicated to the cooking of France.  I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen.  But where to start.  I opted for two recipes based in the Provence region.  I know, not Paris, sorry Linda.  I made Honey Glazed Pork Roast with Apples and an Apple, Carrot and Celeriac Salad. These recipe looked so good, and were  so approachable in terms of ingredients (not always the case in recipes found in Saveur) that I had to give it a try.    Oh, and the most exotic ingredient – dry apple cider.  If you live in a an area with a good liquor store the cider will be no problem.

So here’s my version of the two recipes:

Honey Glazed Pork Roast with Apples  serves 4

A word about the cider.  I did some research online and elected to use Strongbow cider made in England.  American “dry” ciders seemed to include berries or fruits in the press and some even add sugar – the very opposite of Dry.  And a word to the wise.  Do your own research.  I went to a large liquor store and was told by one of the women that all hard cider were dry.  A more knowledgeable sales person confirmed my research that indicated I should stay with the Strongbow and avoid American ciders.

Honey Glazed Pork ingredients ready to go

Honey Glazed Pork ingredients ready to go

  • 1  2 1/2 lb pork loin roast, tied
  • 2 tbl honey
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 tbl unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges – 16 wedges total
  • 5 Gala or Fuji apples cored and quartered ( any other sweet tart apple may be used)
  • 2/3 cup dry apple cider – I recommend Strongbow
  • kosher salt and pepper – preferably fresh ground

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Season the tied pork with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. drizzle the honey over the pork and arrange the rosemary and thyme on top.  Scatter the cubed butter over the top of the meat and herbs.  Place the onion wedges around the pork. Add the cider to the pan and bake until the middle of the pork registers 120 degrees F., check after 45 minutes – may take a bit longer at higher altitudes.

Place the apples around the pork and return to oven.  Continue baking until the apples are tender and the and the pork is golden brown.  The meat should register 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

Apples added to the pork and onions

Apples added to the pork and onions

Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. At this point you can slice the pork, place on a platter and serve with the onions and apples or you can plate each serving individually.  Either way you should drizzle the meat, onions and carrots with the pan juices just before serving.

Roast, apples and onions resting prior plating.

Roast, apples and onions resting prior plating.

Apple, Carrot and Celeriac Salad serves 4

  • 2 Gala or Fuji apples – core removed and cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
  • 1 tbl fresh lemon juice
  • 8 oz peeled celeriac, cut into 1/8 inch matchsticks
  • 3 tbl golden raisins
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 1/8 matchsticks
  • 3 tbl vegetable oil
  • 1 tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbl Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and pepper – preferably fresh ground

In a large bowl, toss the apples and the lemon juice and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the celeriac, carrots and raisins and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the vegetable oil with the vinegar and mustard until it is emulsified. You could also place the oil, vinegar and mustard in a covered jar and shake until emulsified.  Pour the dressing over the apple/vegetable mixture and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note:  Celeriac is difficult to peel as the skin tends to be thick and tough.  You may find it is easier to peel with a paring knife as opposed to a vegetable peeler.  And a word to the wise – If you have a garbage disposal do not use it to dispose of the peels.  You may end up rodding out the sewer line between the kitchen and the street.  Trust me on this one.

I would suggest using a mandolin to cut the carrots and the celeriac.  It produces a more uniform cut and may be safer than trying to slice the celeriac into 1/8 inch matchsticks.

So there you have my Provence dinner.  And for my friend, whose husband expects to see potatoes on the plate, mash some Yukon gold potatoes and serve with the pork, apples and onions.

Plated Honey Glazed pork roast with Yukon Gold potatoes

Plated Honey Glazed pork roast with Yukon Gold potatoes.


That’s what I did. I made the salad when we had the leftover pork two days later.  Totally new meal!

Posted in Cooking, Entree, Family, Food, French Food, Menus, Pork, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Anniversary

You never know who will check in at the B&B!

You never know who will check in at the B&B!


Last Thursday, March 31, 2016 I began my 14th year as an innkeeper.  14 YEARS!  Where did the time go.  I must be having a good time for these years to go by as quickly as they have.  And for those of you who aspire to being an innkeeper here’s a short summary of some of the things I have learned and you will experience:

You will meet wonderful people from around the world. I have met guests who lived on every continent except Antarctica and over a dozen different countries.   Some have become friends and I’ve watched their children grow up.

You will learn you’ve the ability to communicate at odd hours of the day and night.  I have mastered the art of the middle of the night check -in (latest was 2:30 am) and the very early morning check-out (earliest has been 3:45 am), thankfully not on the same day.

You will find that ironing bedding can be a zen like experience. But forget about folding those fitted sheets. I still don’t have it down perfectly and I’ve had plenty of experience.

You will become a more adventurous cook.  First, because you will find that making the same thing over and over again can make you crazy, and second because you never know what dietary challenges a guest can bring.  I am now able to prepare breakfasts for vegetarians, vegans, diabetics, glucose free, lactose intolerant, and my personal favorite – the all raw diet.

Your personal knowledge of your surrounding geographic area will grow.  This is a real benefit to you because while you are out at a new gallery or trying a new restaurant or discovering a new trail in the mountain you can “justify” goofing off as research for your guests! “Hey, I need to spend some time at the new mall that just opened so I can tell my guests what they can find there.”  See what I mean.

If you love the holidays you’ll love being an innkeeper.  You can decorate to your heart’s content and no one will think anything of it.  Being an innkeeper means you don’t have to justify putting up Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving!

All in all I’ve learned a lot of new things, met a lot of great people and will be ready to retire in two more years. Oh that last part, the part about retiring, I’ve been saying that for six years!  I’m an innkeeper and I love it!


Posted in Bed and Breakfast, Breakfast, Breakfast, Corrales, Family, Food, New Mexico, Sandhill Crane, Sandhill Crane Bed and Breakfast, Southwestern States | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Easter

I have completed all of my Easter preparations.  The eggs are hard-boiled and dyed, the Easter baskets are ready to go – including the ones I make for our guests – and I have a few hours before I need to head off to church.

Tomorrow morning our guests will start with a composed salad of Asian pear, cantaloupe, raspberries and blueberries. The breakfast entrée will be a spinach and smoked salmon frittata garnished with spring greens.

What they won’t be having is lamb cake.  I’ve made a lamb cake to celebrate every Easter since the first year I was married.  This will be cake number 46 ( I married very young!) Lamb cake 2016 is resting comfortably in the middle of the dining room table.  One year I left the lamb cake on the island for a few moments and when I returned he was missing part of his butt.  Boz obviously thought this was a very small weirdly colored lion that, as a Rhodesian ridgeback, it was his duty to chase off – or eat.

One could argue that, with no children at home I could just as easily omit this tradition but in our household everyone is a kid when holidays come around!

Lamb Cake ready for the Easter Table

Lamb Cake ready for the Easter Table

This is a labor of love for me.  I make the cake for my kids who are grown with their own lives, for my granddaughter, London, who may one day help me make the Lamb cake as her mother did, for my Mom who is celebrating with friends, for my brother and sister who will be celebrating with their families, and for George and I as we celebrate another Easter together.  I make it to celebrate the season.  Happy Easter!

Posted in American Food, Baking, Bed and Breakfast, Breakfast, Cooking, Dessert, Easter, Family, Food, Holidays, Rhodesian Ridgeback | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Patrick’s Day – A Little Late

Today we are celebrating St. Patrick’s day; and yes, I know St. Patrick’s day was actually last Thursday.  A number of factors contributed to this tardy celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day dawned bright and sunny but not so my husband’s stomach.  He wasn’t feeling well.  And he felt worse as the day went on.  Someone who is under the weather has no interest in indulging in Guinness Beef Stew, Champ and Soda Bread.

He was back to normal on Friday but this is still the Lenten season and I am Catholic so no meat for dinner.  Plus, I was spending the weekend in Phoenix celebrating my Mom’s 86th birthday so no Irish food this weekend.  That brings us to today.

Right now the stew is simmering away on the stove, the soda bread ingredients are measured and ready to mixed.  All I have to do is peel and boil the potatoes for the champ, mix the soda dough bread and bake in the cast iron skillet, and open the Guinness.

As I have already provided my recipes for soda bread and Irish Stew, I’ll share my recipe for champ.


  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 4 oz chopped scallions
  • 5 fl oz milk
  • 2 oz butter
  • ground pepper

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling water until fork tender. While potatoes are cooking simmer scallions in milk for 5 minutes.  Strain the potatoes and mash thoroughly.  You may elect to put the cooked potatoes through a ricer if you want a perfectly lump free mash. Add hot milk with the scallions, salt and pepper and half the butter to the mashed potatoes.  Combine well.

Champ is traditionally served mounded on a plate with a well of melted butter in the center. Using a spoon, one eats form the outside in, dipping each spoonful in the melted butter.  I mound servings in individual bowls and ladle the stew over the champ.  It may not be the most traditional way to eat champ but we like to make our own path!

Posted in Cooking, Family, Food, International Cuisines, Irish, Recipes, sides, St Patrick's Day, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Sale

I love a bargain. I have no problem buying “ugly” produce or other grocery items at reduced prices.  It may not look pretty but it tastes the same.  My grocery store has an endcap that holds nothing but a limited number of reduced price products that are canned, boxed, or bottled.  The reason an item ends up on the Manager’s Special endcap are varied; perhaps the cans are dented (I don’t touch those), perhaps the store stocked up for a special promotion and they didn’t sell all the items ( I got some great imported tomato sauce from that promotion), or the store manager decides to rotate product and items need to be cleared off the shelf to provide space for something different.  The reason doesn’t matter.  It’s a bargain.  I especially love it when I can buy something I’ve never tried before and not feel bad about spending full price if it turns out to be awful.  My latest find did not disappoint.

Last week the Manager’s Special endcap featured a product from Hidden Valley called Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Warm Dip and Appetizer Mix.

Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Warm DIp and Appetizer Mix

Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Warm Dip and Appetizer Mix

It sounded intriguing, we love chipotle chile  – seemed like a no brainer to me. And yes , I know it. may not be the healthiest thing but we aren’t going to eat it all in one sitting.

This product can be a warm dip or an appetizer spread and I opted for the spread.  The instructions called for two 8 oz packages of cream cheese mixed with the dip.  Sorry, two 8 oz packages of cream cheese are too much for us.  We’ll never finish that much before it goes bad.  But one package of cream cheese – well that’s a different story.  Easy enough to get out one 8 oz package of cream cheese – a little different story with the dip mixture. It comes in one package so dividing the seasoning requires one my favorite kitchen tools – a scale.  Using the scale I was able to accurately divide the mix in half for use in two applications.  I did modify the recipe listed on the back of the box a bit but it turned out great.  The spread has been used on wraps, with crackers and will be spread on buns when we have hamburgers. Spread thickly enough it might even make a great grilled cheese.  I’ll try that when I use the remaining spice mixture.

Here’s how I made our spread:

Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Spread  makes 8 oz.

  • 1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 package of Hidden Valley Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Mix
  • 3 tbl milk

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Serving ideas – Spread on a tortilla and top with chicken breast and spring greens, or use as a topping on baked potatoes or…. the possibilities  are endless.



Posted in Appetizers, Comfort food, Cooking, Food, Mexican Food, New Mexican, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent + Friday = No Meat

We are well into Lent and that means every Friday we have a meatless meal.  So far the Friday menus have included fish of some sort – Stuffed trout, Cioppino, Salmon filets – you get the drift.  Tonight I am going old school with Tuna Burgers.  While they are made with tuna, they’re not really burgers.  I can’t recall when my mom first put theses on the table but I know I have been a fan ever since.  It’s like eating  tuna fish casserole on a bun, minus the noodles.  And this is the ONLY way my husband will eat anything akin to baked tuna fish casserole.  His reason stems from our first months of marriage and my propensity to continue to cook as if 6 people were eating.  But I digress. He loves tuna burgers so tonight I get almost tuna noodle casserole and he gets no tuna noodle casserole – a happy marriage!

These are really easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients; a well stocked pantry would probably include the main ingredients of tuna and mushroom soup. It’s not gourmet, it’s not fine dining, but I sure love it!

Tuna Burgers  serves 2

  • 2 5oz cans of tuna, drained (considering how the tuna is treated I would advise not spending the money on canned albacore tuna)
  • 1/2 can of mushroom soup – more if the mixture seems too dry
  • 1 green pepper – seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 english muffins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Durkees Fried Onion Pieces

Preheat the broiler on high.  In medium size sauce pot, combine the tuna, green pepper and mushroom soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Heat over medium until bubbling.  Toast the english muffins. Top the english muffins with the tuna mixture.  Place under the broiler and cook until slightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and top the tuna burgers with some Durkees Fried Onion Pieces.  Place under the broiler until the Durkees Pieces get a bit brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes – it will be molten.

I am serving this with really bad for your oven baked onion rings and cole slaw.  Another Friday night in Lent covered!



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