Like many of you, I adore surfing the internet in search of scrumptious dinner ideas. There’s something special about finding the perfect combo of ingredients, mixed together just so. My computer recipe file is bursting with delights, and I tip my toque (chef’s hat) to the geniuses who painstakingly created these culinary wonders, down to the last precise detail. Here are my ratings of recipes for a few of our family faves.
Baked Salmon with Herb Butter
*****Make friends with your fishmonger! I ask for the very freshest Coho salmon and prepare it with care. The fish only needs a squeeze of lemon before baking, and the softened butter blended with basil and chives is the ideal topping. Top quality Irish butter, please, and those herbs should come straight from your kitchen garden. Amazing flavors!! I did (cautiously) add 1/8 tsp. of pepper, to give the dish the merest bit of zip, but no more.
Wild Blueberry Muffins
*****Followed this recipe verbatim, and so glad I did! The farmer’s market was out of wild blueberries so I did use domesticated. Oh, and I used brown instead of white sugar. And I skipped the vanilla. Otherwise I made no changes whatsoever. Why tamper with perfection?
Nonna’s Pasta Primavera
***** TOO delicious!! I didn’t have heavy cream, so I substituted skim milk. I traded the linguine for the mac in the Kraft mac and cheese box. The sauce didn’t thicken correctly, so I added 2 cups of flour (measure carefully). I forgot to put tomatoes and mushrooms on the shopping list, but I pressed on. Also swapped out spinach for asparagus, and par-boiled it for three hours (approximately, use your judgement) before adding. Delectable! Even little Trevor gobbled it up, and he usually only eats Froot Loops, so that is high praise.
*****Yummy yummy!! Didn’t have Marsala on hand, so used a good glug of Bailey’s Irish Cream instead. Also, we are pescetarians, therefore I sauteed tofurkey in place of the chicken. It seemed to need a bit of “green,” so I used the leftover par-boiled spinach from Nonna’s Pasta Primavera (a must-try) in the gravy. Clean Plate Club Chez Smith!
French Onion Soup
*****Wish I could give this MORE than five stars. It was a challenge to procure genuine French onions (“oignons”) but once I returned from Paris the dish came together quickly. Drenched in broth made from reduced-salt generic “beef” boullion cubes, I simmered the soup for an hour before topping with croutons. I just noticed that it sounds like I was drenched in broth. I was not. It was the “oignons.” Oooh la la!
*****To die for!!!!! We’re allergic to shellfish around here, but boy do we love candy that looks like little scallops! Our appetizer “puffs” featured a pound of mini marshmallows, sautéed with garlic and spread on toast rounds (note: out of bread, used hot dog rolls) then topped with shredded Gruyere (actually low-fat Velveeta, must confess) and broiled. Pleased my book club no end (and they are a bunch of picky picky ladies.)
*****This is a KEEPER! Didn’t let my strict diet stop me from indulging in these treats! Made a few teensy switcheroos (no chocolate, no sugar, no eggs, added some ground tuna and a touch of kelp–a crunchy surprise). Watch your baking time!! Frost with fat-free mayo and don’t forget the festive sprinkles!
The Original Caesar Salad
*****Oh my goodness!!!!! Some would tell you that the Caesar was invented at a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico by Caesar Cardini, but I did a little sleuthing and discovered the true origin of this timeless classic. It hails way back to the Roman Empire, when lavish feasts were interrupted by bouts of vomiting. The canny slave cooks would scoop up the regurgitated food and re-purpose it for the next round of gluttony. I didn’t go QUITE that far, but was true to the spirit of the dish with my weeks-old lettuce topped with clumps of expired cat chow. A salad fit for Caesar himself (if Caesar were a Siamese kitten, that is).
Glad to point you to treasures from some of the world’s great kitchens! Remember to follow these recipes to the letter! You’ll LOVE the results!