Simple Sundays

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This is music I found on YouTube.  A longer selection that most Sunday’s but it’s so beautiful I think you’ll enjoy listening and watching the beautiful pictures of Fall.  The colors, smells and memories of so many wonderful times with family and friends during this special time of year come to mind and provide comfort.  I wish you all a beautiful day of rest filled with love, good food, good drink and someone you love.  Peace!

Simple Sundays

 

Ethereal music for a quiet Sunday morning.  French pressed coffee with chicory in my over sized mug….a splash of real cream.  I find it’s the little things that make more sense to me now.  Slowing down to a gentler way of living.  I have a sense of eternity not known to me before the losses of this past year.  I also have an inner peace I have not experienced before.  There are times when it is still unbelievable….how could it all have happened?  The important thing is to continue to live and to savor the many memories.  Always remember…the love never dies…not ever.  Peace!

Autumn Appetite!

The weather is still up and down with warm days and somewhat cooler evenings.  Summer food doesn’t appeal any longer!  I’m sharing a menu that I think of as transitional, it’s easy and so delicious.  Whether you are entertaining or serving a Sunday dinner to your family, I think this fits the bill!  Enjoy and bon apetit!

Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

 Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

Plum Torte

White Bordeaux

StuffedEndiveHerbedGoatCheese_2453_600

Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

2 heads of endive, washed and separated into spears

1 small log goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped, flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced, fresh garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the endive spears, wash them and separate the spears, then place them on a plate.  Let the goat cheese come to room temperature.  Mash with a fork, adding the fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Place one teaspoon on the end of each endive spear.  Arrange on a serving plate, that’s it!  Quick, delicious and not too fattening either!

chicken with pasta and veggies

Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

1 box cherry tomatoes

1 cup pitted olives (I get an assortment from the bin at Harris Teeter where you can choose from different varieties)

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 cloves garlic minced

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Place the olive oil in a large skillet, bring to medium heat.  Brown the chicken breasts well on both sides, remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate.  Add the white wine over high heat to deglaze the drippings from the chicken, let reduce by about 1/4.   Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about ten minutes.  Return the chicken to the skillet, spooning the sauce over it and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat.  Serve over pasta with asparagus on the side.

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

1 bunch fresh asparagus, wash well and snap an inch or so off of the bottom of each spear

1/4 chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about two lemons and zest from one lemon

Steam the cleaned asparagus in the chicken broth for about seven minutes, until “just tender”, add the butter, lemon juice and zest, tossing well.  Serve on the side with the chicken and pasta.

plum torte

Plum Torte

(Thanks to www.forgoodnesstaste.com for the lovely photo and recipe)

1/2 c butter

1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. almond or lemon extract)

1 c flour 1 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)

1/4 tsp. salt

Topping: 1/2 c. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375º.  Butter an 8×8 pan.  Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla (and almond or lemon extract).  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it in all at once and just mix until combined.  Don’t overmix or your batter will be tough!  (Mixing builds gluten which you want in bread, but not in pastry!)  Spread in the bottom of your buttered pan.

Place the plum halves into the batter by laying them on top, skin sides down, and pressing gently to “set them” in the batter.  Then spread the topping over the top of it all.  It will look like way too much cinnamon sugar, but it isn’t!  Trust me!

Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the plums have begun to give off their juice and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

On The Lakefront

 

 

As the weather cools off festivals and concerts begin to pop up all over the North Shore and New Orleans area.  People meet in throngs to celebrate the gentle lake breezes and enjoy wonderful music and food.  Last Saturday night was no disappointment as we met friends for the Louisiana Philharmonic Halloween concert.  We loved hearing the famous music of Saint-Saens, among others.  Thousands of locals congregated at the band shell on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain sharing picnics, wine and joy.  It reminded me of my New York City days when we always met friends in Central Park for the amazing concerts there.  One thing I love about this area are the similarities I find to bigger city living.  And the fact that everyone is always ready to celebrate….even for no reason!  But at this event it was all about witches, goblins and all things Halloween.  Skylar took the video you see above.  It will definitely give you a sense of the spirit of the evening.

I couldn’t help taking a photo of two witches posing on the wall that borders the shoreline.  I would love to have included shots of the Louisiana Philharmonic as they played….way too crowded to even get close.  So we sat back, visited with friends both expected and unexpected!  It’s always so good to run into people you haven’t seen for months.  The festival atmosphere of the evening was wonderful!  Cool breezes….good red wine….cheese from Acquistapace and a lovely evening of fun and merriment!

As we packed up to leave the sun was setting on the western horizon of the lake.  Sailboats lazily rocking in the water made me wish I were on board.  What a beautiful place this is.  I never cease to be enchanted by the culture and history as well as the spirit of the people who call this home.  I’ve been here for three years now.  Not the easiest of times but every day gets a little better and I fell a bit stronger.  I’m learning that time is the only healing balm for sadness.  Have a wonderful Halloween this evening….wherever you may be!  We’ll be with friends celebrating the evening and the season.  Fall has arrived and not a moment too soon!

 

 

Simple Sundays

 

 

 

The piece I discovered and decided to feature today is the final piece from Eric Whitacre’s electronica opera “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings”.  “BLISS’ has long been one of my favorite words.  This is not a long piece but it is beautifully ethereal.  It brings a feeling of peace to my heart that is much needed.  I hope you’ll relax and enjoy!  Do something just for you today.  What brings you bliss?  The answer is within…only you can find it! Peace!

 

It Was Divine!

Forks & Corks….the scene of a fabulous 80’s Halloween Five Course wine tasting dinner on Wednesday evening. Guests arrived in the finest 80’s costumes.  Even “Ronald Reagan” made an appearance, shaking hands as he worked the room!  If you haven’t experienced the culinary magic of Chef Austin ‘hoss’ Blaise then make a reservation and enjoy a real treat…no tricks involved.  I’m featuring some photos from the evening as well as the food.  So let’s begin!


Halloween vignettes filled the main part of the restaurant….fog machines and all to provide a ghostly feeling for this very special evening!

Tables beautifully set waited for the evening’s guests to arrive.

We began the evening with a delicious “Ghostly Gnocchi”.  The dish featured handmade pumpkin gnocchi with a generous dollop of mascarpone, pancetta lardons, toasted pistachio nuts and fresh sage.  Each bite was filled with the distinct flavors of Fall, a perfect combination of textures and, of course my favorite, pistachio nuts!  Served with a crisp Landmark Chardonnay the festivities began.

Next up, “Spooky Salmon”.  Olive oil poached salmon with crispy rock shrimp, squid pasta pearls, charred garlic and tomato confit with fresh basil butter….foodie heaven!  Not only beautiful to look at, the dish was a hit!

A “Demonic Duck” dish followed, but I would think of a more heavenly name!  The flavors of this amazing entree did not disappoint.  Molasses cured duck breast served atop sweet potato pave with blackberry compote and chipotle gastrique.  This dish was probably my favorite of the evening, but it would be hard to say.

This amazing Chateauneuf du Pape helped bring the flavors alive, enhancing the molasses flavor of the duck breast….c’est magnefique!

This divine beef dish named “Scared Sh**tless Shortribs” completed the entrees for the evening.  Braised in Guiness Stout, the shortrib was placed atop a serving of roasted butternut squash polenta with bacon-red onion marmalade and wilted spinach.

Yes, I did manage to save room for dessert!  “Boo Brownies” provided the perfect ending to this lovely five course treat.  The white chocolate brownie, served with a scoop of dulce de leche gelatto made my heart sing!  I definitely had a clean plate after this delectable course.

I highly recommend this delightful dining destination.  With it’s lovely ambience and friendly, knowledgeable staff, it’s a winner .  Located at 141 TerraBella Blvd. in Covington, this could very well become one of your favorite spots for date night or any occasion.  Owner, Osman Rodas, our host for this wonderful evening, also owns Pardos American Bistro, soon to open in its new location and Pepe’s Mexican Kitchen in downtown Covington.   We hope to have news for you soon as we begin scheduling podcasts and video taping in December.  These restaurants will certainly be on our list of the best places to eat on the North Shore.

For reservations, please call:  985-273-3663

Wine…Dine…Fall For The 80’s

It’s happening tonight…6:30 pm…Forks and Cork is the location.  Think of your favorite 80’s character and put on your costume! This place is a sleeper. Tucked away at 141 TerraBella Blvd. in Covington, this is the perfect setting for intimate dining and some of the best food I’ve experienced on the North Shore.   Tonight will be a fabulous time for people watching and enjoying our “Fall into Fall” as local weather cools down a bit!

Image result for forks and corks covington louisiana

This will be a sumptuous  “wine and dine” dinner.  The five course menu will have you wanting more as it begins with “Ghostly Gnocchi” and carries through with delicious Salmon, Duck and Shortrib dishes all paired with the perfect wine.  The evening ends with “Boo Brownies”.  You will NOT be disappointed!

Image result for forks and corks covington louisiana

Forks and Corks is the place.  The food is delicious and the wine will be perfect!  I hope to see you there!  I’ll be the one looking like “Stevie Nicks”!  Stay tuned for photos and reports on the event this coming Friday!

Forks&Corks…..985-273-3663 for reservations!  COME JOIN ME!

Simple Sundays

 

What better way to start the day than with mellow music and beautiful sunflowers, nature and horses?  Getting back into horseback riding is on my bucket list…wish me luck!  I discovered Mark Knlopfler’s lovely music while browsing on YouTube.  I hope you’ll enjoy the music, sip your coffee or tea and plan a wonderful, relaxing day!  Peace!

 

Finally Friday!

As we all enjoy cooler days I thought about this meal, one of my favorites!   Whether you are entertaining guests, family or having a quiet dinner for two, this is a delicious combination of courses, flavors and textures.   Come with me to foodie land and enjoy!  Here’s the menu:

Scotch Mists with a Lemon Twist

Gougere (little cheese/pastry appetizers)

Chopped French Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette

Pork Chops, Pan Seared with Port Wine Sauce and Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots

Creme Brulee

Pinot Noir

scotch

Any cocktail will do, but somehow, a good single malt scotch poured over crushed ice with a twist of lemon just seems perfect with the Gougere appetizer.  A good Amantillado Sherry would be delicious as well.

gougeres

For the Gougere*:

1 1/4 cup water
10 Tbl butter
1 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 c shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the water and salt.  Let it come to a rolling boil and  immediately add flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.  Keep mixing until the flour absorbs all the liquid and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  You want to cook the mixture  for about 3 minutes to dry out the dough.
Put the flour mixture in to the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment.  On medium-low speed, mix for about 30 seconds to cool it a little.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure that it’s fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once the dough is all combined, it should be slightly thick, shiny and pasty, add the cheese, black pepper and thyme.
Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet in your desired size. (Note: I have made these by simply dropping a small spoonful onto the parchment paper and it works well.)  If you want them as appetizers, pipe 1″ rounds.  For breakfast size gougères pipe the rounds about 2 1/2″.   Sprinkle grated Gruyère on top.Bake until they are puffy and nicely browned, about 25 minutes for the small ones and 35 minutes for the large ones.
*Thanks to the wonderful blog “Treats” for this delicious recipe!
french green salad
Chopped French Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette
2 heads Endive
1 head Raddichio
1 head butter lettuce
1 head frisee
2 honey crisp apples
1 cup toasted walnuts
Wash the greens and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Loosely chop the lettuces and raddichio.  Slice the endive or, if you prefer, break the spears apart and toss whole in the salad.  Wash and core the apples.  Slice them about 1/8″ thick.  Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes, just long enough to let the oil and flavors release.  Toss the greens together and place on four chilled salad plates.  Arrange the apples on the top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.
White Wine Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
a Big pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk the vinegar, salt and dry mustard together in a small bowl.  Continue to whisk as you add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Blend in the pepper and pour a bit over each salad.
pork loin with shallots cropped
Pork Chops with Port Wine Sauce, Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots
4 bone in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
1 cup port wine
1 bulb fennel
3 shallots
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Slice the top off of the fennel bulb and thinly slice the bulb.  Peel and slice the shallots.
fennel & shallots cropped
Place the olive oil in a heavy saute pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Add the fennel and shallots with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Saute for five minutes.  Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a bowl, covered with foil to keep warm.  Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Return the saute pan to the heat on medium high.  Place the pork chops in the pan and sear for five minutes, turn and repeat on the other side.  Remove the chops from the pan.  Carefully pour the port into the pan over high heat and allow to boil for one minute.  Turn the heat down and return the pork chops to the pan.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer very slowly for 20 minutes.  Just before serving, add the butter to the pan to incorporate into the sauce.  If needed you can had 1/2 cup chicken broth to the sauce.   To serve, place the fennel mixture on the plate and top with a pork chop.  Spoon the sauce over all and grind a generous amount of black pepper over all.  Note:  I serve this with tiny yellow potatoes that have been roasted at 425 degrees for one hour, toss them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before roasting.
creme brulee

Creme Brulee*

My all time favorite dessert, hands down.
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half (light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300F. Arrange 6 custard cups in a large pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches deep.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until they turn frothy and bright yellow. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup sugar, the creams, and vanilla extract into the beaten eggs. Beat the mixture for 90 seconds.

Pour the eggs and cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a large (4 cup) liquid measuring cup. Divide the mixture between 6 custard cups and fill the large pan with hot water half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custard in the hot-water bath for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set, but still moves a bit in the center when jiggled. Cool the custard in the water bath for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate them until they are chilled.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar over top of the custards and caramelize the sugar with a small, handheld kitchen torch. Serve immediately.

This classic crème brulee recipe makes 6 servings.

*Thanks to About.com:  French Food for this yummy recipe.

It WORKS!

Image result for plexus

I don’t think I’ve actually every touted a product in a blog post before.  As you, my readers know, I have had a very stressful year.  I ended up with digestive issues due to stress…no surprise.  I knew I had to do something.  I also wanted to take off a few extra pounds…especially after hearing from a medical professional that women “of a certain age” just can’t lose weight.  That was the challenge for me.  I heard from my friend, Lisa, through a Facebook post with before and after pictures of what was happening to her body and how she was experiencing healing in ways she could not believe.  I had to know more.

Image result for plexus

Since the products came with a money back guarantee after 60 days, if I was not pleased with the results, I decided to give it a try.  I can tell you now that this product line is amazing!  I have been drinking my “pink” drink every morning and taking the supplements at night to heal my digestive system and the results are obvious.  I am into skinny jeans, as of today, that I could barely get into before starting this product line.  I have more energy and my outlook on life in general has improved.  Everyone told me to take care of myself first as I provided care for my father and my husband over the last couple of years.  Of course that was difficult for me to do, but I did understand.  Getting myself started on Plexus has turned a page for me as far as my life and health are concerned.  That is why I felt compelled to share this information.

Lisa gave me permission to use her before and after photos…and she’s still losing!  I haven’t taken photos of myself yet, but I will.  I am very excited to share Plexus with you.  It’s all about self care and good health.  So much information has recently come out about the importance of a healthy “gut”!  Please email me if you would like more information:  melissa@thepermanenttourist.com.