Since we didn’t make a big Holy Thursday Seder meal this year, I thought it would be nice to make something memorable for Good Friday. Catholics are bound not to eat meat on Good Friday. I was at the market on Thursday picking up some last-minute things, and the butcher brought out two lovely pieces of Ahi tuna. I already had purchased Blood Oranges at the Farmer’s market earlier in the day. I also wanted something simple for Friday night because we would be spending a good deal of our day in the church for the Stations of the Cross and The Seven Last Words of Christ.
I have to say I was proud of my son. Our church has the kids from the middle school put on a play, complete with Roman soldiers and a real wooden cross. Spane said to me, “Mom, can we leave, it’s really sad.” Later, I saw he had a tear in his eye, and I knew that he had finally GOTTEN it. We will be going to Easter Vigil on Saturday night (Sunday according to the liturgical calendar), so we will once more be joyous again.
After all that, I was kind of tired when we got home. I looked on the Internet for tuna and blood oranges, and everything was pan seared. I wanted broiled, so I went my own way. It was delicious, and I suggest you try it. You can even do the whole thing on the grill, just make sure you have an oven safe pan for the sauce.
I love when spring comes and all the fruits and vegetables you missed over the winter come into season. I especially miss watermelon. There are all sorts of watermelon flavored things, but they are just not the same, and who knows what’s really in them.
Last year, I found a great recipe from Jeff Potter’s book, Cooking for Geeks, for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. It was an experiment in sweet salty that I made one of the times I was Guest Chef at Ascencia in Glendale.
Spane had gotten a good report card and had requested Jambalaya for dinner. It’s spicy food, and with Global Warming Climate Change giving us warm nights already, we needed something to cool down our selves and our palates. I was reminded of the watermelon salad I made last year, and it was time to make another.
I recently joined a great MeetUp, Entrepreneurs Professionals Glendale, and wanted to bring something nice for everyone to share. One of the members, Aron Ganz of Ganz Media gave the berries their name, Strawberry Torpedoes, a much shorter name, and I am grateful for that!
This is a group of entrepreneurs and professionals, who own small to medium businesses. We are not drones of the corporate world, and realize that even though being self-employed has its difficulties, it has huge rewards. Our group, led by Lynn Sarkany of MarketFinders, meets to exchange ideas to help our businesses, share stories, and network with each other. If you are a like-minded individual, you might consider joining us. Please visit Entrepreneurs and Professionals to find out more.
I had recently found a whole bunch of baking chocolate on sale, had some strawberries and a package of cream cheese. But, instead of making the Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries that I made last time, I thought I would add a little more adult flavor to the dish.
I added cocoa, coffee, vanilla, almond and cinnamon to the cream cheese filling, and I injected the berries with balsamic vinegar. When you bite into these berries, they explode flavor into your mouth.
Why would anyone want to write about Thousand Island Dressing? It’s yucky! It’s that reddish stuff that sits on the salad bar and congeals because no one wants it, and rightly so. It’s the “secret” sauce on the Big Mac, and has become so common that you probably don’t even notice it on your sandwich anymore. That’s a pity, because this is a grand dame of salad dressings with an interesting and honorable history.
Thousand Island Dressing is named for the archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some of the islands are very small indeed. The one pictured above supports a single tree and two bushes. The dressing was popularized by May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star in the 1890′s. She had a home in Grindstone Island, one of the Thousand Islands. She said that the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands, and enjoyed the dressing so much that she requested the recipe from Sophia LaLonde, a fishing guide’s wife who frequently made the dressing for her husband. Miss Irwin then gave the recipe to George Boldt, the proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who instructed his the hotel’s maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu. In 1950 the dressing became a standard, and started its decline into the gloppy mess we have today.
One of the things we do at The Good Plate is to reconstruct packaged foods, so they taste better, and don’t have the preservatives common in packaged foods. I knew that venerable Thousand Island Dressing deserved a better place, and making it from scratch would make it one of my favorites, especially for sea food salads.
I made a crab salad for the dressing, and some Balsamic Toasts to go with them. This was in the midst of Spane and his friend making Play Dough on the stove. There are little bits of homemade Play Dough all over the place. Time to clean!
Figs are amazing fruits. Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, even before wheat. Figs dated 9,200 years ago were discovered in the Jordan Valley in a house in the early Neolithic village of Gilgal I by a team of researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Harvard University.
Figs are mentioned in the Bible many times, beginning in Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 7 where Adam covers himself with a fig leaf. Jesus even curses a fig tree in Mark Chapter 11, verse 12 and Mathew Chapter 21, verse 19. I guess there was only one unfortunate fig tree, it has a bevy of other cultural and historical references. A whole chapter is devoted to it in the Qur’an. Sura 95 of the Qur’an is named al-Tīn (Arabic for “The Fig”), as it opens with the oath “By the fig and the olive.” Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree. In Greek mythology, a crow angers Apollo having been tempted by a fig. In modern times, we have wonderful Fig Newtons.
The journey to this tart was one of discovery. I had not cooked with figs before, let alone made a fig tart. My only exposure to figs was the ubiquitous Fig Newton cookie. With that in mind, I wanted something that was sweet, but not too sweet, and with a cookie type crust. I also found a French Tart Dough recipe to which I made major changes, and my Stove Top Cooked French Sweet Tart Dough turned out to be perfect for my Blue Cheese Stuffed Fig Tart with Balsamic Honey Glaze.
Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.
I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.