Monday, March 28, 2011

Fine, and You?

Chocolate Truffle Cake from Dessert Designs

It's been awhile.


A long while.

No, I didn't quit eating.

It started out as taking a break.

And turned into something much more than that.

It went from being a busy fall into Thanksgiving.

And then it went to hell.

A yearly mammogram gone horribly wrong.

Ten days later a stereotactic biopsy.

A diagnosis the day before Christmas Eve.

Two weeks later a lumpectomy.

Followed a month later by thirty three days of radiation.

That ended today.

I was lucky.

No lymph nodes involved.

No chemo necessary and voluntary radiation to be sure the cancer cells were gone.

And no follow up pill.

As one doctor at Vanderbilt said, "if you had to pick a breast cancer to have, this would be it."


I'll remember that.

Food wise, there were a lot of Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese suppers, my personal go-to for stress eating.

And there were lots of wonderful meals, shared with Groom by a warm fire and surrounded by four leggedy loved ones.

There were lots of Sundays with precious child Kate, watching Glee and Modern Family.

Many close friends who kept food, wine, laughter and books flowing around us as Groom and I found our way together through a difficult time.

And mother, always there, reminding me of who I am and how to keep going.

And get cooking.

And start Feeding Groom.



Thursday, August 5, 2010


It’s 109 degrees in the shade and being a born and bred Southern girl, I don’t do heat.

I do air conditioning very well.

So why in the world during the hottest summer I can remember do I want to make Harissa?

You know Harissa, the North African condiment which sometimes can be so hot, you turn a totally unappetizing shade of red at the dinner table.

Bobby Flay made me want to make Harissa, that’s why.

And I’m so glad he did.

You have options on how hot you want it. You also have options whether you wish to make a paste or more of a thick sauce. I opted for the sauce.

And as a topping for grilled wild sockeye salmon or roasted chicken with chickpeas or grilled flank steak with a splat of Harissa and Tzatziki rolled in pita bread…mmm mmm mmm.

I roasted tomatoes and garlic and red bell peppers to perfection, toasted crushed red pepper flakes, caraway seeds and cumin seeds and coriander seed and threw it all in the blender. Aged sherry vinegar and dash of honey..

Just the right blend of spice and heat to make whatever you’re eating just that much better.

Without sacrificing your good looks at the dinner table.

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Grill It by Bobby Flay

3 fat cloves garlic
1-½ tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
2 large red bell peppers, cut in half, remove seeds
2 small tomatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of dashes aged sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
A quick swirl of extra virgin olive oil

Roast the pepper, tomatoes, and garlic at 400 degrees until done. I did this in a toaster oven and it worked beautifully. Plan on about 20 minutes until garlic is soft.

Toast the cumin seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and crushed pepper flakes in a small dry skillet until the spices are fragrant, about five minutes over medium high heat.

Put the roasted veggies in a blender and chop. Add spices and keep the blender going. Add the sherry vinegar and the honey and a quick swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Makes about a cup and a half.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Divine Tomato Tart

We grew tomatoes at the Red Brick Ranchero for years. The best was Rose de Berne, a wondrous heirloom.

Then our dirt decided to turn on us and we couldn’t grow a cucumber.


So we took that as a sign from above and decided to leave the tomato growing to the people that know how to do it.

Recently, our favorite “veggies in the summer” guy, Kenny, has had these outrageous Amish grown Better Boy tomatoes.

At least I think they’re Better Boys.

I was swooning and making happy noises while he was telling me what kind they were.

In other words, not listening.

Whatever they are, they shine in this Divine Tomato Tart. It owes a lot to Chuck Hughes ( who is absolutely outrageous and why didn't I know about him before now), nothing at all to Paula Deen, other than butter is used in the process, and a whole lot to the pig, who makes it’s presence known in the form of crisped prosciutto sprinkled on the top with fresh basil right before serving.

A phyllo crust brushed with Dijon and topped with Manchego cheese, a dusting of fresh thyme on thickly sliced tomatoes and some grape tomatoes (because someone who shall remain nameless ate a tomato designated for the tart without permission) round out the ingredients.

This tart is as easy as pie (couldn't resist!) and works wonderfully with a bit of fresh arugula…I’m seriously into arugula this summer…a piece of grilled chicken on the side, or even out of hand a la Nigella late in the evening.

Feeding Groom’s Divine Tomato Tart
Adapted from Chuck’s Day Off

1 package phyllo, thawed
1 stick butter, melted
2 large Better Boy tomatoes, sliced about ½ inch thick
1 cup grated Manchego cheese
Dijon mustard
Three to four sprigs fresh thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces prosciutto, diced and sautéed til crisp
A few fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a bit of Pam in a 12 inch quiche dish. Start layering phyllo dough, overlapping the sheets, around the dish. Brush with melted butter. Continue to layer and brush with butter til you have used all the sheets. Be sure to let phyllo overlap the top and brush that with butter as well. Then brush what will be the bottom of the tart with a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the tart and then add the tomatoes. If you have glaring holes that need tomatoes, add halved grape tomatoes to fill in the gaps.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper and the fresh thyme leaves that you have stripped from the stems.

Pop it in the oven and let bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the prosciutto and the fresh basil. Look at the picture, can you tell which side I used to take it out of the oven?

Serves 4 generously as main course.
Serves 5 as side dish.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday Shrimp

Just because you don’t blog all the time doesn’t mean you don’t think about it.

You think about it constantly and wonder what the hell happened to your muse.

Did he run off to live with some other person who thinks they have lots to say about food?

Or is he just being fickle and testing you to see if you are as serious about food as you say you are.

Whatever it is, there has been a lack o’ muse around the Red Brick Ranchero for a couple of months, but I think it’s safe to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel..

Check out this faboo shrimp dish that is fast, easy and full of flavor.

Garlic flavor. Sundried tomato flavor. Italian parsley flavor.

Brine the shrimp. Throw it in a searingly hot cast iron pan with a dab of extra virgin olive oil and you’ve got something special.

Toss with spicy arugula and you’ve got a supper that will, in the Feeding Groom world, make you want to call someone and tell them how good it is, but we all know what your mama told you about talking with your mouth full.

Sunday Shrimp
Adapted from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

1 pound 21-25 shrimp, peeled, tail on
1 large lemon, cut into 8 wedges
4 fat cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
6 julienned sundried tomatoes preserved in oil, give a quick rinse
A good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Put the shrimp in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups cold water and add 2 tbsp coarse salt.
Put in fridge and let it sit for 20 minutes.
Then rinse well, pat dry and put in a large bowl with the sundried tomatoes, chopped Italian parsley and a good swirl extra virgin olive oil
Heat a couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.
Add the chopped garlic to the pan and let cook about five minutes, until the garlic gets golden and remove from the pan. Add the pine nuts to the pan and let saute til golden about five minutes. Remove from the pan.

In a large bowl , toss the shrimp with the chopped parsley, a bit more extra virgin olive oil , the sundried tomatoes. Raise the heat under the pan to medium high. When the olive oil looks wavy add the shrimp to the hot pan with the toasted garlic and pine nuts and cook til the shrimp turn pink. It won’t take long!
Add the lemon wedges and toss well.

Serves 3 generously.
This is wonderful with fresh arugula dressed with a zesty lemon vinaigrette.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fennel and Celery Slaw with Orange, Cumin and Chilies

Fennel slaw.

Intriguing and not at all what you would think it would be.
Especially when you only have one fennel bulb.

And you realize fennel’s best friend is celery.
And there’s a plethora of the celery in the fridge.

A little bit of orange zest, crushed fennel seeds, ground cumin, hot red pepper flakes and minced garlic.

Let this baby sit a bit and it gets a mind of its own.

Spicy, peppery, fragrant and so damn good with a piece of grilled chicken marinated in fresh lime juice.

Dare I say it?

Big Fat Yum!!!

Fennel and Celery Slaw with Orange, Cumin and Chilies
Adapted from Molly O’Neill’s A Well Seasoned Appetite

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and julienned
1 large cup thinly sliced celery
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
Good pinch crushed hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine fennel and celery in big bowl. Combine fennel seeds, cumin and crushed red pepper flakes in small bowl and add to fennel and celery and toss. Whisk together the orange zest, garlic, fresh lemon and orange juices. Add a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil and season to taste with the coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the fennel and celery and toss til well coated. Let sit for an hour at room temperature.
The original recipe calls for chopping ¼ cup of fresh fennel fronds and adding to the salad prior to serving.
I forgot. I’m sure it would be divine. Also you can do this recipe with 3 medium fennel bulbs and leave out the celery. Up to you!

Serves 3.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Feeding Groom's Grilled Lobster Provencal

One of the truly great party weekends in Nashville is just around the corner.

The Iroquois Steeplechase.

Visualize yourself on a beautiful sunny day, dressed up in the cutest dress, a faboo hat and totally inappropriate shoes hiking several miles to your box where you’ll spend a delightful afternoon watching horses fling themselves around a track and people slowly turn the color of lobsters.

Which brings me to my subject.


You’ve delegated beverage, nibble and dessert duty to fellow box members. It’s up to you to bring it on and blow them away with the main course.
Enter a cold grilled lobster with a knock out baby new potato and haricot verts salad .A divine Dijon vinaigrette, a few toasted pine nuts, Kalamata olives just add to the total outrageousness of this meal. if you don’t want to deal with the shell, make the salad, put it on some mixed baby romaine and top with the chopped grilled lobster and fresh basil. Add a few lemon wedges for a quick squeeze on top and you’ve got one hell of a lunch.

Party on!

Feeding Groom’s Grilled Lobster Provencal


3 tbs Champagne vinegar
1 tsp minced shallot
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup roasted garlic olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the champagne vinegar, shallot and mustard in small bowl. Slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl as you whisk until the dressing emulsifies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

The Lobster Tails:

Preheat your grill to high if gas, or get the charcoal going.

2 large lobster tails
Roasted garlic olive oil for brushing


1 pound baby new potatoes, cooked until just tender, cut in half
½ pound haricots verts, also known as French green beans, blanched
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
6 perfectly ripe small tomatoes, quartered ( grape tomatoes work well)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a dab of olive oil. Add lobster tails and cook for six minutes at the boil. Drain and when cool enough to handle, take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut right down the middle of the flesh side of the lobster. Don’t cut all the way through. Clean the hard shell off the flesh side and with the scissors, cut to expose the flesh so it will grill evenly.

When your fire is ready, brush the lobster tails with the roasted garlic olive oil and cook 3 minutes a side.
Remove the flesh from the lobster tail and chop in bite sized pieces. Toss with a bit of roasted garlic oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Combine salad ingredients, toss with dressing to taste.

Fill the lobster tail with the chopped lobster. Arrange salad next to the lobster and sprinkle with the fresh basil.

Serves 2.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mediterranean Scallops

Talk about a dish that will brighten up your dinner plate.

This is it.

Adapted from the always amazing Molly O’Neill’s A Well Seasoned Appetite, this dish has all the ingredients to transport you on a mental vacation to the Mediterranean .

Saffron, orange, basil, rosemary.

Throw in a few choice scallops, Nicoise olives and the freshest tomatoes you can find.

Pasta, if you like.

It’s travel in a bite.

Mediterranean Scallops
Adapted from Molly O’Neill’s A Well Seasoned Appetite

A couple of swirls extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 spoonful garlic confit ( or a couple of fat garlic cloves, chopped)
1 cup dry white wine
1 large pinch saffron
6 -8 of the ripest Campari tomatoes, quartered
½ cup oil cured olives, pitted
½ fresh orange, zested
2 medium springs fresh rosemary, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 large basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
A good splash aged sherry vinegar
1 pound fresh scallops
Enough cooked pasta (linguine or fettuccine) for 2 (optional)

Put a couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and heat til the oil is wavy. Add the minced shallots and garlic and maintain a medium low heat. Cook until the shallots are tender. Add the wine , saffron and raise the heat to medium high and saute stirring, until the mixture is reduced to about ¼ cup.
Add half the tomatoes, olives, orange zest, rosemary and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat back to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Combine remaining tomatoes, fresh basil, sherry vinegar and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper in a glass bowl and set aside to marinate while you finish the dish.

Add the scallops to the skillet with the sauce and cook, about 5-7 minutes, until the scallops are cooked through.

This is faboo with or without the addition of the pasta.

Top the dish with the marinated tomato salad and serve.

Serves 3 generously.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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