Lemon Tart with Walnut Crust

Lemon Tart with Walnut CrustEasy Peazy Lemon Squeezy

This past winter, I thought for sure I would lose all my citrus trees during that long stretch of sub-​​freezing tem­per­a­tures. There was a lot of frost damage, and I had to cut them way back. But if you walk into my back yard right now you would never know it.

The trees are in bloom, and the scent is phe­nom­enal. When com­bined with the fra­grance from my hon­ey­suckle it almost smells like Hawaii, without the beach, or the guy with a Mai Tai.

As won­derful as all this is, unfor­tu­nately I will have to wait months for the fruit. And I’ve got a wicked craving for all things lemon: lemonade, lemon sauce, lemon cake, pre­served lemons…well you get the idea.

To tide me over until har­vest, I picked up some beau­tiful Meyer lemons down­stairs in the store, and made a tart from a recipe from the August/​September 1997 issue of Fine Cooking magazine—which I bought years ago. It is easy, and so tasty, and a great way to end a Spring meal.  Read more…

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

Stuffed Flank SteakNon-​​Conformist Easter

When you have a hol­iday that involves a tra­di­tional food, it is easy to get bored. (Except Thanks­giving. You don’t mess with Thanks­giving.) For me, it’s Easter.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I love about Easter but for some reason, this hol­iday more than any other makes me food-​​fidgety. (Yup. That’s a tech­nical term.)

My sister hosts our Easter get togethers. Some­times it’s brunch. Some­times it’s dinner and, from time to time, it’s yelling in a clown’s mouth on the road to a soccer tournament.

This year our extended family is having brunch, which means that I will be doing my own thing for dinner. I’ve decided I’m going to go against all tra­di­tion and cook beef.

I have a large col­lec­tion of recipe pages from classes at Tante Marie in the city. They are in plastic sheet covers, housed in 3-​​ring binders, and for the most part they sit on my shelf. From time to time, I flip through them looking for a par­tic­ular recipe or inspi­ra­tion. Last weekend I was thumbing through the pages when I saw one of my favorite recipes—Italian Stuffed Flank Steak. I decided then and there that I must make it for Easter dinner because: I’m just not all that excited about roasting a Leg of Lamb, it is so stinkin’ great, and Easter is as good an excuse as any.

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak is adapted by Tante Marie from a Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso recipe in The New Basics Cook­book. It takes some patience. Rolling the flank steak can be tricky. (Having another set of hands can be helpful). But it will always taste good no matter what the per­fec­tion police have to say about your rolling abil­i­ties.  Read more…

Feast or Famine Mac ‘n Cheese

Pioneer Woman Mac 'n CheeseFeast or Famine

April is the month of bud­ding fruit trees, tulips, nasty yellow marsh­mallow birds and, sigh, taxes.

Some years we look for­ward to April ‘cause we naively think that Uncle Sam will con­tribute to our “Butt on a Beach” fund. (By the way, this is a cause I believe in whole­heart­edly. Donate now!)

Other years? Not so much.

We’ve all been there. One week we’re cruising down our beau­tiful “well main­tained” high­ways (that shrine to our tax dol­lars at work) on our way to a dinner of filet mignon with lob­ster. And the next week Turbo Tax is telling us that there is a Costco size case of Top Ramen in our future.

So, in honor of Feast or Famine month, I offer you two of my top recipes for a com­fort food favorite, Mac & Cheese. True, the des­perate can go the blue-​​box, plastic cheese route. But the real deal is easy to pre­pare, and you can make extra for the freezer.

For those whose for­tunes have been favored, I offer a deca­dent ver­sion, and sug­gest you enjoy it with your favorite bottle of bubbly—while using your best Thurston Howell III voice.  Read more…

Medallions of Veal with Wild Mushrooms

MontignacLost In Translation

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word April? Most people, I think, would say Spring. My first response? Paris. Not sure why—maybe it’s the song. I’m not one of those people you could call a fran­cophile. I’ve only been to France, and Paris specif­i­cally, once. And even then my hus­band and I were there only a couple of days before heading out to eat and drink our way through the rest of the country, on our hon­ey­moon road trip.

Per­haps it’s the romance. Spring­time along the Seine does have it’s appeal. (A little wine. A little cheese. A baguette. The occa­sional Mime…) We, or course, were there in the Fall. It’s not a con­scious deci­sion to go against the grain. It just hap­pens that way, not ’cause we’re hip and cool. We’re just a few degrees off normal.

We ate well, and my rea­son­able grasp of the French lan­guage served us in our travels…most of the time. There was one dinner where my over-​​confidence came back to bite me.

In the town of Mon­ti­gnac, just north of the Las­caux caves, we were staying at a great B&B. But we decided to go out to dinner that night instead of eating at the inn. We found a cute little bistro, and sat down for what we hoped would be a great meal.

Every­thing started well. I ordered in French and the waiter seemed to under­stand me but I knew I should have been con­cerned when I ordered the Rognon de Veau as our entrée and he looked impressed. The Veau part was easy to trans­late, Veal, but the Rognon part was way off base. Somehow (maybe it was the wine?) I got Rognon mixed up with Medal­lion when in fact Rognon means Kidney. I had ordered Veal Kid­neys y’all! (Thank you karma. Yes you were right. I was get­ting too big for my britches.)

I’m an adven­turous eater, but I draw the line at organ meats. (Pate being the excep­tion). The tragic part was that up until that point our meal was out­standing, and you know that if we had been kindey eatin’ kind of people it would have been really good. I give my hus­band credit. He at least gave it a go. I couldn’t do it but I did eat every­thing else on my plate. The waiter snick­ered when he cleared our plates from the table.

The recipe below is what I pic­tured in my mind and what I thought we would be eating. Try not to snicker when you eat it!  Read more…