Paula Deen in Glendale

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Paula Deen is going to be at Barnes and Noble to do a book signing this evening at 7pm. That made me think of how lucky I am to be living here in Glendale, California. We have things here that you just don’t find everywhere else.

This morning, I went to my favorite store, Best Grocery on Maple, and got two big, red tomatoes, a fat slice of smoked turkey and an avocado. I went home and made a wonderful stuffed tomato salad.

Turkey Salad Stuffed Tomato and Avocado

Turkey Salad Stuffed Tomato and Avocado


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Mexican Feast – Coleslaw, Black Bean Dip and Taquitos with White Sauce

Mexican Feast

Mexican Feast

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This afternoon when I was at the local store, I had a taste for Mexican food. I already had frozen taquitos in my freezer (I’m too lazy to make them myself), so all I needed was avocado. Well, surprise, surprise my little store didn’t have any, so I decided to make the white sauce similar to the fish taco white sauce at Rubio’s.

I also had some cabbage in the refrigerator. I love cabbage and it’s very good with Mexican food. I picked up a can of black beans so I could make the same black bean dip I used for my Black Bean Tacos.

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Hot Tin Roof Salad – Composed Grilled Steak Salad

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I loved the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives. It just seemed the weather was so hot and humid in that movie, kind of like it was today in Glendale, California. Spane, Amber’s children and a friend all had a wonderful time playing in the neighbors pool, and as I watched them, I thought that a steak salad would be the perfect end to a perfect day. I decided to call the salad Hot Tin Roof Salad because it was so hot and steamy here, just like in the movie.

With that being said, one of the wonderful things about summer is all the great, fresh vegetables. Tomatoes are sweet and pop juice into your mouth. Lettuce is really crisp and the greenest of green. The little Persian cucumbers I get at the local Armenian store are tender and flavorful – not like their large watery English cousins with the waxed skins that always seem to come up on you later. Buttery Haas avocados are also plentiful – did you know that all Haas avocados come from one single tree that died at the age of 76 in La Habra Heights, California?

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Chicken Kabobs with Rice Pilaf and Yogurt Salad

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Hungry for Dinner!

Now that I had made those pixies, I was hungry for dinner, and I put the chicken kabobs on that I had started marinating earlier.

I have a wonderful rotisserie that I picked up at a church rummage sale for $15.00, brand new, in the sealed box. I can roast a whole chicken, or other piece of meat simply by impaling the meat in the central piece. That central piece also has a top from which you can hand skewers, and also comes with a square basket for smaller foods. I love my rotisserie.

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Curried Chicken Roll-Ups with Cucumber Tomato Salad

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It’s Been a Hard Time

It’s been hard on me since Spane was diagnosed with Dandy Walker Syndrome. I seem to think about nothing but that, I don’t want to clean my house, do laundry, cook, etc. I’m way behind. But, today, things are getting a little better. Things are looking up.

I love to find bargains. Last Wednesday night, after coming home from the Emergency Room after 8 hours being there, and being starved, I stopped at Ralphs and got one of those rotisserie chickens. Spane didn’t feel like eating, I ate some of it, and so there was a lot left. So, tonight when I was thinking about what I could make on a hot night, I thought of that poor chicken sitting in a bag in the refrigerator.

We went to the local vegetable store and got some tomato and these lovely, long Persian cucumbers. I have never seen them so long and big! The Italian plum tomatoes were large, too, and ripe and really red and juicy. When I asked about bread, the proprietor pointed to the Lavash1, and I thought that would be perfect for roll-ups.

Recipes

Curried Chicken Roll-ups

Ingredients

1 cup chicken, cooked, bones and skin removed
2 tablespoon spring onion, sliced
1/2 cup flat Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon good curry powder
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 leave Romaine lettuce, whole
1 slice Lavash1

Directions

You can easily do this by hand, and just mix the chicken, onion, parley, curry and mayonnaise together. I put mine in a food processor and pulsed it four or five times until the mayonnaise was thoroughly incorporated.

Take the slice of Lavash1 and cut it half through the middle. On each piece, put two leaves of lettuce, and then put half of the chicken mixture. Start rolling up the sandwich at the lettuce side, tightly.

When you have made both roll-ups, you can cut them on the diagonal or cut them into smaller slices for appetizers. Each half is more than enough for one person.

Cucumber Salad

The Persian cucumbers are the best for salads. They are crisper, more flavorful, and have a thinner skin than the regular cucumber you buy in the market with their waxed skin. Find Persian cucumbers in Mediterranean markets.

Ingredients

— Salad —

2 Persian cucumbers, 1/2 inch sliced
1 Roma tomato (or two if they are small), sliced or large dice

— Dressing —

1 teaspoon good French mustard (NOT yellow mustard)
1 teaspoon Spicy Globe Basil 2
1/4 cup Red Wine vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

Directions

Get a bowl and put in on something that will keep the bowl from moving when you are whisking. If not, find someone to hold the bowl (a child is a good choice).
Put the mustard in the bowl, with the leaves, and mix. Add the vinegar and mix thoroughly.
Now, take your whisk and slowly start adding the olive oil, a slow, slow drip, all the while whisking (see, how helpful that child is?). When the oil and vinegar have emulsified, you can put the dressing on top of the cucumber and tomato and chill until ready to serve.

Enjoy!


1 Lavash is a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flat bread. It is best served the day you purchase it as it dried out very quickly.

2 Find out more about Spicy Globe Basil, and plant some in your garden.

Suddenly Composed Salad

Suddenly Composed!Picture-2

Every year in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles, we have something called June Gloom. It happens right after Memorial Day, which is usually hot, when the marine layer sits over the Pacific Ocean coming inland and keeps everything cool and gloomy. My mother used to call this kind of weather “sweater weather” because it wasn’t cold enough for a coat, but it would get warm enough after the clouds burned off to go in a sun dress, and wear a cardigan in between.

It is also the time when fruits and vegetables are springing up very fresh and flavorful in your local market. Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to get green tomatoes to make Fried Green Tomatoes with Basil Garlic Mayonnaise.

Today my corner store had ripe, red, tomatoes that cried out to be brought home for salad. There were also perky Persian cucumbers waiting to go into my basket, and a perfectly ripe avocado that felt great nestled in my hand. Spirited spring onions were also placed in my basket as well as three hearts of Romaine lettuce.

I also had some things at home to put in the salad. I had a little pastrami and swiss cheese left over from making Chicken Rubens with Saffron Rice. I had marinated sun dried tomatoes, black olive slices, real bacon bits, peperoncini and blue cheese. I decided that Girard’s Champagne Dressing would be perfect.

The real trick to making a composed salad is not so much what you put in it, as how it is presented. Each ingredient should be in its own little area, and artfully arranged. In my salad, for example, I fanned out both the tomato and avocado halves, and made a little flower out of sliced Persian cucumber. The black olive slices, crumbled bacon and blue cheese were in the middle, with one whole sun dried tomato propped up with a peperoncino sitting in their place of honor on the very top of the salad.

You are free to add your own ingredients, chick peas would be a good addition, so would chopped eggs, marinated onions, Kalamata olives, Chinese snow peas, grilled chicken, the sky’s the limit!

So enjoy these wonderful days of summer and remember that salads don’t have to be dull or ordinary.