Back to my makeshift studio to paint. This is 60″ x 48″ and is designed to hide a water heater. Not the best reason to paint, but any reason in my mind is a good reason. When I sold my waterfront home, I gave up my perfect painting studio over my three car garage. It was designed to have perfect north lighting, lots of space for storage and close to main street where I could sell my art.
When I sold it, I bought a small cottage with a finished garage, so I could set up my studio there. It was great, people walked by and said hello and it was clean and organized with lots of storage. I still own the home, but do not live there.
Where I live now, really has no studio. It is a wonderful 1912 California Craftsman Bungalow with a not so lovely 1912 one-car garage. I’m not sure it ever really housed a car. It is unfinished, has that “old house” smell, and it has taken me a while to want to paint in it. In time we may dry-wall it, so I can hang some art and hopefully get some shelves so I can store some of my supplies. I did order a lamp this weekend to help with the lighting.
This torte tasted great and I followed the directions to the tee. I cook all the time, so am never intimidated by complicated recipes, let alone simple ones. It was cooked perfectly, but for the life of me, I could not get it off the springform pan. I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and tried again; it just smooshed up together. So I put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and could finally get it off the bottom of the springform pan. I did not try to invert it or flip it as it did not seem to have the “staying” power. Previous to finally getting it free of the pan, I was about ready to scoop it out and just put it in compote bowls or old fashioned champagne glasses with a little whipped cream on top and some berries, as why waste a perfectly good dessert.
A decadent, gluten-free flourless chocolate cake recipe with no added sugar necessary!
8 large eggs, cold
1 lb. dark, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
optional toppings: powdered sugar and/or berries
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of an eight inch springform pan with parchment paper or waxed paper and grease the sides of the pan. (Be sure to grease the sides really well!) Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and set it in a large roasting pan, or any pan that’s larger than the springform. Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil.
In stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until the volume doubles. This takes about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together. You can either do this in a double boiler on the stove . Or you can do this in the microwave (by heating the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth).
Fold about a third of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture using a large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible. Fold in half of the remaining egg foam, and then the last half of the foam, until the mixture is totally uniform.
Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and VERY carefully pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set, a thin-glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on the surface, and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway into the center reads 140° F, 22-25 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cool. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
About 30 minutes prior to serving, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan, invert the cake onto a sheet of waxed paper, peel off the parchment paper, and invert the cake onto a serving platter.
If desired, lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar and top with berries. To slice, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife, dipping the knife into a pitcher of hot water and wiping the blade before each cut. ( I top with a chocolate ganache)
Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over thirty years, I love Salmon of all types and cooked in a variety of different ways. I found this sort of accidentally online and thought I might try it with some of the beautiful parsley I grow in my herb garden. I planted my garden several months ago and it is finally starting to take off. The following bright and flavorful parsley oil makes a great salmon sauce. I served it with bacon wrapped asparagus for the perfect dinner. We paired it with a nice Pinot Noiir.
For the parsley salmon sauce: 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 large clove garlic, peeled 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper For the Whole30 salmon: 4 3-ounce salmon llets, skin on 2 tablespoons olive oil sea salt freshly ground black pepper
First, make the salmon sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and pulse until very smooth. Pour into a jar, and set aside.
Next, sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon llets, and heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
Add the olive oil to the pan, and then add the salmon, SKIN SIDE DOWN.
Watch the salmon cook on the edges. When it’s half-way cooked, move the skillet to the oven to nish cooking. No need to ip this salmon!
Cook the salmon in the oven to your desired level of doneness. I like my salmon a little red in the middle, so I cook it for 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer it all the way done, cook it for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the salmon from the skillet, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the pars
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus is one of the best recipes for easy entertaining! Cook it in the oven, on the grill, or stove. Crispy and flavorful every time! It is so easy in the oven and you can cook it at the same temperature as the fish. I like to make many things with asparagus. The other night we had a simple asparagus soup. I used the leftover asparagus, cut up and added to our dinner salad.
1 pound asparagus spears trimmed (about 20 to 24 spears)
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 strips thick-cut bacon
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. ( and I put tin foil under this to make sure there is no mess)
Place the asparagus in a large bowl or on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Count the spears and divide the total number by 8. Gather that number of spears (likely 2 to 4 spears, depending upon their thickness) and hold them together in a single bundle. Starting midway to the top, wrap the bundle with one piece of bacon (overlap the starting end of the bacon slightly to secure it) and place the bundle on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining spears.
Bake until the bacon is crisp and the asparagus is tender, about 22 to 28 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you’d like it to be. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can add additional toppings, such as balsamic glaze, cheese, honey, and more!
Thought you might like to see a photo of my growing, still growing Herb Garden in California.
Note that the parsley is taking over the world and the chives are not doing so well yet! Hopefully they will take off growing soon, as they tried to take over my garden in Washington.
Make this hearty traditional French dinner of savory crêpes with a creamy sauce.
Buttery in flavor and delicate in texture, crêpes are paper thin, soft, pancake-like wrappers that are the ideal vessel for both sweet and savory fillings. Like my mother, I more often use crêpes for savory fillings, like this salmon-spinach one, but they are just as delicious when reheated in a little butter and sugar, folded, and served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or filled with glazed cinnamon apples.
Crêpes are traditionally made in special, shallow steel pans, but I find that most home cooks, especially those new to crêperie, have an easier time with a small nonstick pan with sloping sides and an 8-inch-diameter flat bottom — inexpensive and perfect for crêpe making. If you’re new to crêpe making, I suggest making a double batch of the batter and try using a bit more batter than what’s called for (use a smidge over 1⁄4 cup) while you get used to rotating and tilting the pan to coat it evenly. The crêpes will be a bit thicker but still good. As you move through the batch, reduce the amount of batter until the crêpes are thin and delicate. We served this with a lovely Pinot Noir.
French Fare: Salmon And Spinach Crêpes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 2
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup baby spinach, trimmed
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 4-ounce boneless, skinless salmon fillets (1 inch, 2.5 cm, thick at the center)
1 tablespoon ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish
For the crêpes
Put the milk, flour, eggs, 5 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Pour the batter into a medium bowl, cover, and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
If the batter has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature. Set a 10-inch nonstick skillet with sloping sides and an 8-inch bottom over medium heat until droplets of water immediately evaporate upon hitting the pan. Using a folded paper towel, coat the skillet with a little of the remaining melted butter. Working quickly, pour a scant 1⁄4 cup batter into the center of the pan while lifting the pan and rotating and tilting it clockwise to cover the bottom evenly with the batter. Cook until lacy golden brown on the bottom, about 1 minute. Carefully slide a heatproof spatula under the crêpe and turn it over, then continue cooking for another 30 seconds, until the crêpe is just beginning to brown in spots. Slide the crêpe onto a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly greasing the pan when necessary (about every other crêpe) and stacking the crêpes as they are cooked.
For the sauce
Whisk the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and bubbling. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and bubbling but not browned, 1 minute. Pour in the milk and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until thickened and boiling. Cook for 1 minute, then slide the pan off the heat. Add the lemon juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, then whisk until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.
For the filling and assembly
Warm the oil in a medium, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s wilted and well coated with the oil. Slide the pan off the heat, add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Have ready the crêpes, sauce, and spinach.
Arrange the crêpes on the counter. Place a salmon fillet down the center of each crêpe and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly on top of the salmon. Fold one side of the crêpe up and over the filling and repeat with the other side. Arrange seam-side up, about ¾ inch apart, in the same skillet.
Spoon the sauce evenly over the crêpes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, the top is browned, and the salmon is cooked, 18 to 20 minutes. Move the skillet to a rack, sprinkle with the chives, and serve immediately.
Cooking mussels may seem intimidating, but this recipe is quick and easy. The white beans to turn this classic mussels-in-white-wine-sauce dish into a heartier weeknight meal. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. I found this recipe in Eating Well and it was a big hit in our house.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved ( I forgot to half them initially, so had to go back to the pot and do them one at a time. It is very important for the taste to do this.)
1 medium shallot, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ( I used four or five as I always say, garlic is yummy and so good for you! No vampires in this house)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see Tip)
½ cup dry white wine
Lemon wedges for serving
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to release their liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and stir to combine. Place mussels on top and pour in wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with more thyme, if desired. How easy it that and it was delicious!
Tip: To clean mussels, rinse well under cold running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles or grit from the shell. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any shells that remain open after you tap them lightly. Pull off any fibrous “beard” that might be pinched between the shells; the “beards” of most cultivated mussels are already removed.
So easy and delicious and amazingly yummy! Made a few changes to the recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I doubled the amount of spinach used, added a little more homemade stock, did not add croutons and cooked my fresh spinach in the microwave to save time.
I view a lot of blogs that show step by step photos of all the simple food they prepare. At risk of being considered a food snob, I think all the illustrations are unnecessary if you know anything about cooking. I like to skip to the recipe and get to work. If you ever need assistance with a recipe, just let me know!
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced ( I used four and it was perfect)
russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
2 lbs fresh spinach, thick stems trimmed ( I did not trim it and the recipe called for 1 lb, but 2 was great. I precooked it in the microwave in big bowl to save time)
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups and make my own, so it has a lot more flavour.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish
FOR THE CROUTONS ( did not add croutons, but served with Irish Soda Bread I had made the day before)
3 tbsp butter
1 cup cubed bread
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and green onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add potato and spinach. Pour over broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is bright green, and potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream.
Garnish with more cream and croutons.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread in a single layer and cook, tossing often, until bread is golden all over, about 3 minutes.
Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt.
We served this with a 2017 Suisun Valley Red Wine Petite Sirah from the Lanza Family Vineyard. Perfection!
And it is the perfect day for Guinness Irish Beef Stew. We had it last night for dinner, as I get my COVIT 19 second shot today, so did not want to miss cooking an Irish dinner for my very Irish friend. I looked at several different recipes and decided this was the best. Now I could not find Guinness in the can, which is highly recommended, so I used a bottle and a half of the Guinness I could find locally. Now the perfect accompaniment, other than potatoes to pile it on, is a delicious loaf of home-made Irish Soda Bread. The one pictured here was amazingly simple and tasted “Oh so good”. Just dip it in the sauce and smile!
As I was preparing the meat for the stew, I noticed there was a lot of fat and gristle that had to be cut off. At first I started to throw it away, then I thought why not make Beef Stock with all the leftovers, and several herbs from my garden. I had a couple frozen tomatoes and some leftover tomato paste, so threw it all in a nice big pot, filled it water and in a couple of hours had a dreamy rich beef stock that I will freeze and use later. I am starting to try not to have much waste with my cooking.
I read a lot of cooking blogs and they all go into a great deal of detail on how to do the recipe. I find that incredibly mundane if you already know the basics of cooking. Maybe on something like a Beef Wellington or anything as complicated I might venture to look at the instructions, but overall find it unnecessary. So here are the recipes I chose to use:
2 pounds stewing meat cut into one-inch pieces ( I cut off all the fat and gristle to use to make Beef Stock)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( used Gluten-Free Flour and could not distinguish a difference)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large yellow onions chopped
4 cloves garlic minced. ( I always add a couple more than it calls for you as garlic is so good for you)
one 14.9 ounce can Guinness ( I used one and a half bottles, as it was all I could find)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce ( I used low-sodium)
2 cups beef broth or more as needed to cover ingredients
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3-4 large carrots cut into 1-inch pieces ( l like them cut smaller, but I don’t really love cooked carrots)
2 large stalks celery cut into 1-inch pieces
mashed potatoes ( I used little Yukon Golds and added absolutely nothing to them – I didn’t want to take away from the amazing sauce of the stew – Once in a while we can do away with butter)
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the beef cubes until they are completely coated. Set aside.
Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy pot until tender-crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate.
Using the bacon drippings, fry the flour coated beef in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, around two minutes.
Pour a small amount of the Guinness into the pan, deglazing the bottom of the pot by scraping up the browned bits off of the bottom.
Add in the remaining beer, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, and sugar.
Place the beef. bacon, bay leaves, thyme, and vegetables into the pot. Stir until combined.
Bring the stew to a low boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until the beef and vegetables are tender. Stir every 30 minutes to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
I left the lid off for about 20 more minutes, so the sauce was thicker, the meat a tab more tender and it was perfect.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
Perfect served over mashed potatoes as the stew is thick and perfect for over the potatoes.
Fast & Easy Irish Soda Bread
Soda bread is traditionally not a light bread, but a heavier bread and it somewhere between a biscuit, a scone and bread in texture and density. It is tasty when cooked appropriately. I have bought it in the past and it was dry and dull. This recipe is rich and you will be lucky if you have any for your stew if you make it earlier in the day. Warm and rich with a tiny bit of good butter, it is hard to resist when it comes out of the oven. I don’t usually eat bread, but this I loved.
What is Irish Soda Bread?
Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread similar to a biscuit or scone that uses baking soda as the leavener, not yeast. When you use baking soda or powder in a baked good you lose that inherently light texture that is achieved by using yeast. Irish Soda Bread is a coarse, thick-textured bread that is more like a huge biscuit. Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread has four basic ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. Modern versions add butter, raisins, sugar, and occasionally egg. The traditional Irish Soda Bread is fairly bland, but anything slathered in butter and dipped in a stew can be amazing!
1 cup buttermilk ( If you don’t have Buttermilk, just add a tsp of white vinegar to your milk & make sure it curdles)
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup salted butter melted ( never used salted butter, so added a tiny bit of salt to the bowl)
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 375 °F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or your medium-sized cast-iron skillet.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and butter. The butter should be pea-sized worked through the dough.
Stir in the buttermilk and beaten egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form the dough into a round shape and place it on your prepared baking sheet or cast-iron pan.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk, Take a brush and then brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf. (Save the rest to put on the loaf during the cooking process)
Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes. Continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes, every 15 minutes.
Remove and cool slightly. Eat while warm and fresh.
Jump in and enjoy! This is really a simple meal. We served it with a lovely Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon and thought it was “heavenly”. It was even better (well almost) for lunch the next day!!
I believe the best homemade roasted tomato basil soup made with fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, caramelized onions and optional add-ins for extra creaminess. This easy tomato basil soup recipe is full of flavor and the best way to use up garden tomatoes! You’ll never go back to the canned stuff after you try this.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
For the roasted tomatoes
3 pounds roma or plum tomatoes, cut in half
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
For the caramelized onions: ( I did not caramelized the onions, but cooked till tender)
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
Possible additions to :
½ cup packed basil leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano ( I added fresh from my garden)
1-2 cups water or vegetarian broth, depending on how thick you want the soup
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
Optional add ins:
Light/Regular coconut milk for a creamy vegan soup
Whole dairy milk/heavy cream for a creamy texture
Parmesan cheese, for a tangy, flavor enhancing flavor
A tablespoon or two of butter, for richer flavor
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place halved tomatoes and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
While the tomatoes are roasting, you can make the caramelized onions: Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to a large pot and place over medium heat. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally. Check onions every 5-10 minutes until they have completely caramelized and turned golden in color. This ususally takes 20 minutes.
Once tomatoes and garlic are done roasting, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then add them to a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. Next add basil and caramelized onions and blend again. Alternatively you can add the tomatoes to the large pot and use an immersion blender. It’s really just about what you have available to you.
After blending, transfer back to pot, turn to medium low heat and add in oregano, vegetarian broth and salt and pepper to taste. From there you can add in any additional add-ons you want (as listed in the ingredients). Allow tomato soup to simmer 10 minutes before serving. To serve, garnish with parmesan cheese and serve with grilled cheese, if desired. Serves 4.
I do not usually strain the seeds, but you can with a fine mesh strainer if that’s what you prefer. I just used an immersion blender after I cut up the tomatoes with a baker’s knife.
Driving down to California we stopped in Newport Oregon for two days. What a beautiful site on the coast. We ate at the local marina both nights with great views, fabulous wine and food. I captured the top photo out the window when we were having dinner one night. I loved the boat and the bridge, but thought the painting might be a bit bland. So I added a nice sunset. The painting is 12″ x 24″.
At first I missed the spotlight and when I looked back the photo and noticed it, I thought it might add a little life to the painting. I realized bridges are not easy to paint, so I abstracted it a bit and did not put in a lot of detail.
It is nice to be back painting, and when Thanksgiving is done, I will be back in the studio. There are no Christmas parties this year with the Pandemic, so we will have to find ways to celebrate the season that bring us joy. I think I will just cook and paint and be happy! Hope you can do the same!