Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cold Soups

Hot summer days always remind me that there is nothing better than a cold soup to refresh and reinvigorate. Truthfully, I have found that I love these soups more than my buying public does, but I can hardly wait for the fresh tomatoes & vegetables that I will use to blend up a nice batch of Gazpacho. I look for good beets to cook into a wonderful batch of Borscht, or I'll pick some crisp cucumbers to puree with Yogurt into a white Gazpacho. Those three soups are enough to satisfy my longings for cold soups throughout the summer. Each mouthful from any of those soups just shouts our "FRESH GARDEN GOODNESS".
Actually, I love to mix the red Gazpacho with a spoonful of white Gazpacho floating on the top. The white makes the red just a little richer & cuts the acidity slightly. Of course, a good slice of crusty French bread is a perfect accompaniment to go along with this summer meal.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A Hermit is a soft cookie that I first had in the 1960's here in Kansas City.  The first place I knew of that sold them was an old upscale family grocery store called Wolferman's-now long gone.  This store was one of those institutions that people my folks age moon over.  I remember the cookie better from another long gone local bakery called the Cake Box.  One of their stores was on the Country Club Plaza (that location now contains an Apple store-times change).  I can remember going into the store with my cousin Howard, who loved those cookies when he was younger & wanted some each time he visited here from Montgomery, Alabama.  On that particular day we walked down from my Grandmothers-it was probably a summer Friday afternoon & when we asked for some Hermits, the clerk informed us that they only made them on Thursday & were now sold out & would not have any more until next Thursday.  Well, if any of you know my cousin Howard, you would know this information was not well received!  In fact, I can remember our indignant response well with statements like "What kind of a way was this to run a business.  If you think we will ever shop in this store again, you are sadly mistaken"!!  Now after having run a gourmet shop for years, I can understand how some days you fill the case with foods & wonder if anyone is coming in to buy what you have labored over.
So what is a Hermit?   Cookies fall into several basic types.  A Hermit is a cake cookie-that is, something closer to a muffin or a small round cake, than a crisp cookie such as a chocolate chip.
Mine have nuts & raisins in the cookie & are flavored with cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg.  I am currently making one for lunches that is non-fat, replacing the oil with applesauce.
Here is Wolferman's original recipe:
Wolferman's Hermit Cookies

1 cup butter or butter flavored shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup cold coffee (the stronger the better)
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup raisins (more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine shortening and sugar, then beat until creamy. Beat in eggs until light and frothy (the mixture, not you.) Mix all that together with the coffee and baking soda, then add in remaining ingredients and mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake approximately 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


"What is your favorite food?"  What kind of question is that?  How can you pick one?  You mean today, right now?  Or, "If you had one last meal-what would you eat?"  Hey, I am not interested in that 'one last meal idea'.  I have too many things left to do-I still don't have my new Anapeg pedal steel guitar!  Or, "If you had one thing to eat on a desert island-what would it be?"
As a matter of fact, I have been thinking about my favorite food & today, it is definitely quiche-Quiche Lorraine, the traditional, is probably my absolute favorite, but I have others.  This is a dish that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner.  A quiche of course is a pre-baked savory pie crust that is filled with a blend of Emmenthal & Gruyere cheeses, topped with bacon bits & diced green onions, & filled with a mix of eggs, half & half, salt, pepper & grated nutmeg.  You use enough swiss cheese to fill the pie crust-not enough & the mix is too eggy- too much & the mix is too rubbery from the cheese.  
This morning I was eating at Tre Kroner, a Swedish restaurant in Chicago & after looking at their menu, I noticed they had a smoked salmon quiche.  It sounds good but decide not to order it because, after all, we are in a Swedish restaurant, not French.  However, my daughter Ashley feels no such qualms & happily orders it.  As it arrives I notice that the pie slice is fairly deep dish. This salmon quiche was good, but too much egg & not enough seasoning. I would have added dill maybe chosen a danish cheese for the filling.
 Now, my quiche pans are not deep dish.  I have the traditional tin pans with a fluted edge & a removable bottom.  They probably hold one or two handfuls of cheese & 3 eggs & one cup of half & half.  They might be about 3/4 of an inch high.
The pan they used at Tre Kronor must be an inch or inch & 1/2 tall.  I saw a quiche pan like that last summer when I was in Vallerus, France.  That is a potter's town north of Antibes on the French Rivera.  My other daughter, Nikki was studying pottery there during the summer & on a visit to her, I found a shop with these wonderful ceramic quiche pans-red, blue, green, orange, yellow and I looked but didn't buy one.  They were something like 25 Euros-about $50.00 each at the time & I figured I could get one here somewhere for less.
The reason I noticed them that day is because we had just taken an inland drive through Grasse; Gourdon & had stopped for lunch at Greolieres, a very small village with two restaurants that I could see, one of which was a Pizzeria.  None of us got pizza though.  What caught my eye was a tomato cheese tart.  When it arrived, I noticed it was also baked in one of these deep dish pans.  The mixture of cheese, egg custard & tomatoes was perfect-not too much egg & not rubbery with the cheese.  In fact, they might not have used swiss in the pie-maybe some type of goat cheese.  I never asked.  
Quiches can be filled with anything within reason.  I use spinach; grilled vegetables; the afore-mentioned salmon; bacon or tomatoes.  I love them all.
I think I'll go look for a deep dish pan tomorrow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Yesterday I ate with Ashley, my daughter, at Lula Cafe on Logan Square in Chicago.  What I had was OK, but she had a Beet Bruschetta that was elegant in its simplicity & yet delicious.  It reminded me of how much I love beets.  Lula served marinated sliced beets on a lightly toasted multi-grain baguette that had a spread of Chevre,  topped with arugula tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Here's how I prepare beets for a salad or would for this bruschetta:
Take some beets, wash them & roast them in the oven just like a baked potato.  Stick them with a fork to determine when they are done, remove them & peel & slice them when cool enough to handle & then drizzle them with a mixture of 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 or 3 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper & Herbs de Provence.  Spoon a little unsweetened yogurt on the top & you have a delicious salad. 

Another favorite dish of mine using beets is Borscht. In the winter I love it as a hot soup in a rich beef stock with carrots, onions, garlic & a bit of thyme. During the summer I julienne the beets & serve the soup cold topped with sour cream or yogurt.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two images of a Valentine Wedding Cake

The decorations on this cake use special cutters from Steven Bennison that I ordered from England.  She chose Red Velvet, White with Raspberry Cream & Chocolate with a Chocolate Mocha Cream for the cakes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wedding Cake

This is a carrot cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Two Wedding Cakes

These two cakes are from different weddings.
Both have Buttercream icing.
Flavors of the cake are varied.
Drape is Fondant icing.

Chocolate Mousse Torte

This is a cake for a shower.
The dice are made from Fondant icing.

Heart cake

Italian Cream Cake for Valentine's Day

Welcome to my blog

From time to time I will add catering idea's, photographs; recipes & other food ideas of interest.
Check out my website for menu's at http://thegourmet-grocer.com