Monday, January 31, 2011

Hot Black Bean Dip With Chipotle

This is a great Super Bowl party dip that can be fully assembled up to two days ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.

Serves ten to twelve.


2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for the baking dish

2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into medium dice

2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. chili powder

2 15-1/2 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained well

2 canned chipotles en adobo, minced (about 1 Tbs.), plus 3 Tbs. adobo sauce

3 Tbs. cider vinegar

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (if frozen, thaw first)

1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) grated sharp cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Freshly ground black pepper

Tortilla chips for serving


Heat the oven to 425ºF. Grease a 1-1/2 qt. baking dish with oil and line a baking sheet with foil. Set the tomatoes in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the salt.

Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add half of the black beans, the chipotles and adobo sauce, and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid reduces by about half, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor, add the vinegar, and process until smooth. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the rest of the beans, the tomatoes, corn, half of each of the cheeses, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake on the foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips) until the cheese melts and browns around the edges, about 15 minutes (longer if refrigerated). Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve with the tortilla chips for dipping.

Check out the Tequila Mexican Cheese Dip  and past Super Bowl Menus and Recipes in Lindaraxa

by Tony Rosenfeld, Fine Cooking

photo: Scott Phillips

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Break From Winter...Sunday On The Lake And A Bath!

Hard to believe a couple of weeks ago we were bracing for a winter storm that dropped 8 inches in Northern Georgia and kept us all home bound for a week! 

After a quick lunch, and with temperatures hovering near the 70 degree mark, we hurried down to the lake to catch a couple of hours on the boat.  It was pretty quiet out there except for the hardy sailors and the determined  fishermen.

So happy...if only they knew what awaits them at home!

Why do I think you are hiding something from me?!

Did we hear the word bath? we can spell, you know...

There must be a way I can get off this soon!

How can you say you love me and still give me a bath

My worst fears come true...
How would you like it if I took a picture of you naked in the bathtub! eh?!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cold Sesame Noodles

This is something that can be prepared and served on the weekend, placed in plastic containers and enjoyed for lunch at the office the next day.  You can substitute broccoli for the snow peas and add leftover chicken or shrimp for a heartier salad.

I like to serve this also in the summer for lunch either at home or on the boat.


Serves 4

Coarse salt

1 pound spaghetti

8 ounces snow peas, slivered lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, cut into long thin strips

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed, if desired)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt


1.In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine pasta with snow peas and bell pepper.

2.In a blender, puree peanut butter, garlic, jalapeno, soy sauce, vinegar, 1/3 cup warm water, sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour dressing over noodles and vegetables; toss to coat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Martha Stewart Recipes

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cocktail Cheddar Pepper Palmiers

Palmiers are French pastries in the shape of palm leaves. This miniaturized savory version is made with cheese and a hint of black pepper, and make an ideal accompaniment to a glass of wine.

If you have worked with puff pastry before, there's nothing to this recipe.  If you haven't, this is a good one to start.  Just remember to think of double doors when you fold the pastry...they should meet but not overlap.  That is the hardest part for most people to understand.  The rest is like baking sliced cookie rolls.

Makes 60 cocktail sized palmiers


1 1/4 cup finely grated sharp Cheddar; 3 1/2 ounces

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 puff pastry sheets (from a 17.3-ounce package); thawed if frozen


Toss Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pepper, and salt in a bowl.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese mixture onto a work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet and place over cheese. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into a 10-inch square, then sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese mixture all over top of pastry, pressing lightly to adhere. Fold sides of 2 ends to meet in center, then fold once more into center and press ends together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour (or freeze 15 to 30 minutes). Repeat with remaining cheese and second sheet of pastry.

While dough chills, preheat oven to 400F with racks in upper and lower parts of oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining chilled until ready to use), unwrap pastry and cut, seam side up, into 1/4-inch-thick slices, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake, turning palmiers over and switching position of pans halfway through, until golden and pastry is cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes total. Transfer palmiers to rack to cool. Repeat cutting and baking remaining pastry on cooled sheets.

Make ahead: Dough can be assembled up to 3 days ahead. Palmiers can be baked 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Photography: Flat Art / Stylist: Abigail Donnelly
Read more:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Entertaining...A Country Brunch

If you live in the country and have a big plasma TV and a fireplace, what could be nicer than having friends for brunch on a Sunday afternoon. These days there is a solid schedule of football games throughout the weekend and unless you want to have yet another chili party, this is a nice alternative and a more relaxing way to catch up with friends and family.

Now, we are in the country and in the South so meals here are hearty and plentiful. That doesn't mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen before or after your guests arrive. This menu will allow you to get everything ready by the time everyone gets there so you can have an enjoyable time too. You can prepare most of the recipes the day before, including the shrimp, and make the french toast and the grits that morning. There are great frozen biscuits available in most supermarkets that are almost as good as the recipe below. So give yourself a break if you need to. Nobody will be the wiser!

A Country Brunch For A Crowd


For more ideas, check out the city brunch in Lindaraxa.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Brunch Anyone?...Shrimp And Grits

A legendary morning repast in the Carolina Low Country, shrimp and grits is said to have begun as a fisherman's breakfast, created by shrimpers using the days catch. Original recipes called for sautéing the small local shrimp in butter and serving the seafood as a topping for creamy, stone-ground grits. Today, "New Southern" variations abound, as creative cooks embellish the classic dish with everything from bacon and mushrooms to fresh truffles.

I know it's hard for Northeners to appreciate grits but think of it in terms of polenta, just white!

Serves 6.


For the grits:

1 cup white grits

4 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed

1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room


2/3 cup shredded medium-sharp cheddar


1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tsp. Tabasco (optional)

For the shrimp:

1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

6 oz. bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice, fried

until crispy and fat reserved

1/3 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup sliced green onions, white and light

green portions

2 plum tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup chicken stock

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce


To prepare the grits, in a saucier or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the grits, the 4 1/2 cups water, salt and 2 Tbs. of the butter and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. If the grits become too thick, add more water. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter, the cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, pepper and Tabasco.

Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Put the shrimp in a shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss with the flour to coat evenly.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Working in batches, brown the shrimp until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and warm 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and accumulated juices, the bacon, green onions, tomatoes, stock, lemon juice and Tabasco. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the vegetables are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the grits among 6 bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.

Don't forget the biscuits!

From Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ham And Cheese Strata II

I am getting ready to post a brunch menu next week in Lindaraxa's Garden and have been trying to make up my mind as to which of two recipes to try out and post for a cheese strata.  They are both so good I decided to split them up in the two blogs.  Maybe I will do a city and a country brunch!

What I liked about this recipe is that unlike most other strata recipes that are baked in a long rectangular dish this one can be made  in a springform pan and the results are spectacular! 

Keep in mind that the strata takes about 1 1/2 hours to bake and some time to rest so plan ahead the day of the brunch..

The recipe is from the Junior League Cookbook of Boca Raton, Savor the Moment,  which won a James Beard Award.


1 loaf French bread, cubed

1 pound ham, cubed

1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 green onions, chopped

15 medium eggs

2 egg yolks

4 cups half-and-half

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Combine the bread, ham, Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and green onions in a large bowl. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half and mustard in a medium bowl. Pour over the bread mixture and stir until moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or longer.

Stir the mixture and pour into an oiled 10-inch springform pan; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 to 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, covering with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Place on a serving plate, run a knife around it and remove the side of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve. Serves twelve.

If serving on a regular rectangular baking dish,  proceed as above but serve right from the pan after letting cool off.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Bake

Southern Living takes pimiento cheese spread to a new level by adding some heat and baking it in the oven.  The result is a marvelous hors d'oeuvre to enjoy in front of the fireplace while watching yet another football game. 

Hopefully you have shed some of the pounds you gained during the holidays, since January can be a tricky month, weight wise.  Between the snowstorms we have been having and the football games ahead I don't know what is worse.  So enjoy it while you stop Valentine's Day!

Total: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes about 4 cups


1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 (12-oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 (8-oz.) block pepper Jack cheese, shredded

Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves

Serve with: French bread cubes


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheeses. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish.

2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until dip is golden and bubbly. Garnish, if desired. Serve with French bread cubes.

You can bake in two separate dishes, if desired.

Southern Living, JANUARY 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Winter Of Our Discontent


Hey where's my spot?!

This is the second snow of the winter and the one that looks to stay for at least a couple of days.  We have plenty of food, wood for the fireplace and puzzles to last us through the winter. No sled though, and I'm happy about that, otherwise I would be forced to get on it and who knows how many things I would break. 

We are really stranded here in the hills around Lake Lanier.  There are no plows and no trucks dumping salt in the middle of the night like we had in Connecticut.  The temperature is supposed to stay around the freezing mark for the next couple of days so it looks like we will be hibernating and stuck in the house for awhile.  The roads are a mess and the weathermen on TV all have their sweater vests on.  It is cold. 

Boy, you guys are slow....

This morning we walked down to the lake to see how the dock had fared.  Everything was so quiet, except for the ducks who are probably wondering what the heck is going on.  The dogs had a blast, particularly Miss Lucy who had to get rinsed under warm water to take out the clumps of snow that had gathered around her little legs.  She is out like a light now, curled up next to me in front to the fireplace.

Our northern friends laugh at us and at how bad we are at handling snow.  Truth of the matter is we are just not prepared for this kind of stuff.  There is also the ice for which Atlanta is famous

The road in front of our house

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Day At The Aquarium

I am posting this as Atlanta is getting blanketed with snow!

The Georgia Aquarium, located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA at Pemberton Place, is the world's largest aquarium with more than 8.5 million US gallons (31,000 m³) of marine and fresh water housing more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species. The aquarium's notable specimens include four young whale sharks, including Alice and Trixie, four beluga whales named Beethoven, Maris, Grayson, and Qinu, and four manta rays Nandi, Tallulah, Billi and the fourth was recently added.

Beethoven, the whale shark

Funded mostly by a $250 million donation from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, the aquarium was built on a 20 acre (81,000 m²) site north of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on land donated by Coca Cola. An additional $40 million dollars in financial contributions was donated by major corporations including the Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting, Home Depot, UPS, AirTran Airways, AT&T, Georgia-Pacific, Time Warner, SunTrust and Southern Company. The corporate donations allowed the aquarium to open debt free.

The Georgia Aquarium is the only institution outside of Asia to house whale sharks. The sharks are kept in a 6.3 million gallon (24,000 m³) tank, and the aquarium was actually designed around the whale shark exhibit. The importation of the whale sharks from Taiwan, which was overseen by Jeff Swanagan and staff biologists, was "top secret" and had never been attempted previously. The move required the use of large aircraft, trucks and boats to ship the massive aquatic animals to Atlanta. (UPS donated the air transportation) The four whale sharks were taken from Taiwan's annual fishing kill quota, which the country has since abolished. Under the quota, the whale sharks would have been killed and eaten if they had not been purchased by the Georgia Aquarium.

According to aquarium founder Bernard Marcus, the aquarium's conservation and environmental mission is just as important as its status as an attraction. Long before opening, the aquarium was already working with Georgia Tech and Georgia State University in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens to help save endangered species through education and research programs.

Since 2008,divers and snorkelers have been allowed to swim in the big tank with the whale sharks in groups of eight for a measly $250.  Why anybody would want to do this is beyond me but chacun a son gout.  You can also spend the night at the museum with the fish and your kids (shudder..)  I didn't check on the cost for obvious reasons.

The place was full of families with both parents and children having a swell time.  It is very clean and well organized.  Highly recommended for children of all ages.  Just look at my grandson's eyes and he's only 4 months!

Small children are allowed to come up close to the tanks.

All photos Lindaraxa
Information from Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Look What I Found...Cinnamon Almond Croissants!

If you want to impress a special loved one, serve these with hot chocolate as a midnight snack.  Save some for breakfast the next morning!

P.S. Better practice...Valentine's Day is just around the corner!


1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets)

1/2 cup canned almond filling

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg, lightly beaten


Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or until they're easy to handle. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the almond filling and cinnamon in a small bowl. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 (about 5-inch) squares.

Spread 1 tablespoon almond mixture on each pastry square to within 1/4-inch of the edge. Fold the pastry squares over the filling to form a triangle. Starting at the wide end, roll up the pastry triangles toward the point. Place the pastries, point-side down, on a baking sheet. Curve the ends of the pastries inward to form a crescent shape. Brush with the egg.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Recipe: Pepperidge Farm

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Welcomed Change From The Holidays...Chicken, Tortilla & Lime Soup

In this classic soup, called sopa de lima, from Mexico's Yucatan region, the chicken is not cooked directly in the soup broth because it will make it cloudy. Be careful not to add too much chili or the soup may be too fiery for comfort. You want to maintain a good balance between the tartness of the lime and the heat of the chilies. One large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced, makes a soothing garnish to the spicy broth. Although it's not authentic, 1 cup corn kernels may be added to the soup with the tomatoes.

Lindaraxa's Suggestions:  For an easy procedure, use leftover cooked chicken or buy one cooked from the supermarket.  You can also use ready made tortilla chips.  I recommend Santitas as the closest to homemade.


4 quarts chicken stock

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

3 corn tortillas, cut into strips 2 inches long

1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 Tbs. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 Tbs. minced garlic

2 to 3 tsp. finely minced jalapeño chili, with or

without seeds, to taste

1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes

(fresh or canned)

6 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

6 Tbs. fresh lime juice

1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

12 paper-thin lime slices, cut into quarters


In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 1/2 quarts of the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat so the broth boils gently and boil until reduced by half to about 7 cups, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a deep-fry pan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, drop in the tortilla strips and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried tortilla strips to paper towels to drain.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken breasts with the remaining 2 cups stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the chicken is opaque throughout when cut with a knife, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Discard the broth or reserve for another use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño chili and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Add the reduced broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, and simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Sprinkle the lime pieces and tortilla strips evenly over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein


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