Photography for Sale

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chocolate Trifle

Guest Chef:  Darwin D. Martin

     My father, being diabetic, does not partake in his own baking - yet continues to wow his children with his decadent desserts.  His torte is our favorite at Christmas time, all six of us agree.  You break through the crunchy topping, glide into the creamy whipped topping, skid into the smooth pudding, and enter the delectable cake, only to do it over again - after all, it's a torte, it has layers and layers of angel goodness.  Have coffee on hand, Enjoy!

  1. One pkg. chocolate fudge cake mix
  2. 2- 6oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
  3. 1/2 cup strong coffee
  4. 6 Heath candy bars, crush like the hulk
  5. 1- 12oz carton whipped topping, thawed

  • Prepare cake; cool.  Prepare pudding; set aside.
  • Grab a 5 quart trifle dish, or a decorative glass bowl.  
  • Crumble cake, reserving 1/2 cup.
  • Place 1/2 of the remaining cake crumbs in the bowl
  • Layer with half of the coffee, half of the pudding, half of the whipped topping, and half of the crushed candy bars
  • Repeat the layers again.
  • Combine the remaining crushed candy bars with the reserved cake crumbs; sprinkle over top.
  • Refrigerate 4 hrs. before serving.  Serves 10.



Good, strong, heady, coffee.   

Variety is Good:

  • Drizzle with Kahlua instead of coffee
  • Use a yellow cake instead, drizzle with sherry, use a vanilla pudding
  • Use mousse instead of pudding
  • brownies instead of cake (I find this too rich)

As for my dad, he makes his cake from scratch, cooked pudding, as well as homemade whipped creme.
Maybe that's his secret.  :)

merry christmas

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Champiñones al ajillo (Gorgeous Garlic Mushrooms)

So what is Spanish food all about? Start with conviviality and freshly prepared dishes with extra virgin olive oils, wines, cheeses, chic peas, lentils, parsley, rice almonds, garlic, saffron, cinnamon and fresh fruit. Add these to more olive oil and wine, very fresh fish, seafood, game, cured hams, sausages like chorizo, fresh breads, and to a lesser extent, beef, and you are almost there

You can't get more Spanish than this for a tapa.  Gorgeous mushrooms infused with exotic flavors that will leave 'em whining.  So make plenty and include some fresh crusty bread, such as a baguette, to sop up those seriously-garlicky juices.

                                                  some serious inspiration        



  • 4 oz. good, strong olive oil
  • 16 oz button mushrooms, whole or sliced
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice                                                                          
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili flakes
  • 4 dashes of paprika
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • handful, of chopped parsley, to garnish

  1. Heat oil in skillet over high heat and fry mushrooms for 3 minutes, stirring constantly
  2. Lower heat to medium, add garlic, sherry, lemon juice, salt and pepper - cook 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

This dish is quite easy and quite delicious to serve with bread, as a tapa, but can also be an accompaniment to a beef, lamb, or pork roast, steak or chops.

If you slice the mushrooms, you can serve on toasted baguette slices.
Can be made a day ahead and served warm or room-temperature.            


Campo Viejo 2006 - an affordable, and versatile choice.
Rioja  -  They play violins to their wines.  :)

       Body of a Woman

Body of woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look yourself like a world in your attitude of surrender.
My rough peasant's body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depths of the earth.

I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me
and the night enveloped me with its crushing invasion.
To survive myself I forged to you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, like a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Ah those goblets of the chest! Ah those eyes of absence!
Ah the roses of the pubis! Ah your voice slow and sad!

Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my unbounded desire, my uncertain road!
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst follows,
and tiredness follows, and the infinite ache.

 - Pablo Neruda, 1924                     




Monday, December 12, 2011

Toot's Meatballs

Two days ago my Aunt Toots passed away.  I couldn't tell you what her real name was, for me it would be Aunt Toots regardless.  I was always tickled that she lived on Lapidary Lane, in Falling Creek Village.  It was so "fairytale-ish", and so were her meatballs.  I've had many meatballs in my life - most were either smothered in barbecue sauce or some grape jelly concoction.  Not only were Aunt Toot's meatballs delicious without a sauce (the oatmeal makes all the difference), but the tartness of the jellied-cranberries along with the tanginess of the chili sauce, coupled with a smidgen of brown sugar sealed them as hers.  I've made them for over 25 Christmas's - in fact, the recipe card I have it on is written in my former husband's hand writing.  That was 25 years ago! 


2 lbs beef
1/4 cup water
1 small finely chopped onion
2 eggs
1 cup oatmeal (ran through a food processor until powdery)
1 1/2 tsp salt

16 oz can jellied cranberry
12 oz bottle Heinz chili sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar                                                                                          


Combine first 6 ingredients and roll into walnut-size balls
Place on a tin-foiled covered cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for 20 min-1/2 hr, or until done

Stir remaining 3 ingredients into a crock pot and heat until melted
Place the meatballs in crock pot with sauce and simmer together.

If you choose to make these, please call them Toot's meatballs.  I think she would like that.  And so would I.

Say hi to Uncle Art for me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

I have a passion for all things Cumin.  This Mediterranean sweat heart is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.  I find Cumin adds an earthiness to my soups and chili's. It's essential oil content lends a warm aroma to cooking, so I especially like to use it in the cold winter months.  Wonderful for digestive disorders, relieves symptoms of the common cold, treats asthma, arthritis and boosts the immune system! Hurray for Cumin!  

Speaking of ... I like it in my SP Corn Chowder too!  This soup packs a powerful punch to the senses, as well as to your nutritional content for the day. With a hunk of corn bread in one hand and a soup spoon in the other, you really won't want to be disturbed.   Dab some behind your ear though, and I'll follow you around all day.  :)


6 oz kielbasa, cut lengthwise then slice
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Lg onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp Arrowroot, or corn starch
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
16 oz pkg frozen corn kernels
8 cups chicken broth
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 1/2 inch.
1 cup whipping cream
16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4 inch pieces, cooked.


  1. In large dutch oven, brown sausage for 5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook 5 more minutes.  
  2. Stir in Cumin, Chili Powder, and Cajun seasoning.  Cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken broth, bring to boil.
  4. Add corn, sweet potatoes, cooked chicken pieces.  Return to boiling, reduce heat.
  5. Simmer covered 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.  Stir in whipping cream and pepper.
  6. Heat to hot, but not boiling.  Stir in cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water - stir for a few minutes until thickened.

                                                    induction of spices
                                                                     melding the flavors
                                                            all is right in my world  :)

Side kicks:

Corn bread
Garden salad


Pinot Gris
Gruner Vetliner - Full-bodied, dry wine, able to pair with difficult foods.
Riesling - a very dry variety.

As always ... enjoy   


Monday, November 21, 2011

French Bread Pudding

A baguette stays fresh for exactly one day.  That's just how they are born.  Like many people, they begin soft and warm only to end hard and crusty!  That's a problem, unless you like to throw bread away ... or Grandpa.  I like to make Bread Pudding!                            

I will have warm bread pudding for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee, of course.  Sometimes I'll grab it cold in the middle of the night.  Oftentimes it is made with raisins, but don't limit yourself there!   Mix in Cardamom or Cinnamon. Any fruit will work...peaches, plums, even prunes.  Serve with heavy cream (daddy's way), or with creme anglaise - a delicious custard sauce.  In France this is often used in place of frostings.  Can also be used as a topping for fresh fruit.   Be creative!  Unlike a crusty Grandpa, Bread Pudding is very forgiving.


  • One stale baguette (approx. 10 cups), torn or cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups milk                                                                                     
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 oz. dried apricots
  • 1 Tbsp. cognac or other brandy (optional).

Cut each apricot into 4 pieces and soak in a bowl of warm water with the cognac.

Pour the milk into another bowl and add the torn bread.  Push it down in the milk so it can soak well.  Place this in the refrigerator so it can soak for an hour.

In another bowl, whip together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar.  Mix this with the soaked bread.  Drain the water from the apricots and stir them in.  

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan, or any attractive baking dish of similar size.  Dot with small pieces of the butter.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown and set.  

Serves 8



Vanilla Custard Sauce/Creme Anglaise

Caution!  Do Not heat the sauce too much or too quickly!  The egg yolks will cook into little clumps.  We don't like clumps.

You can adjust this recipe for sweetness, adding more sugar if preferred.  I find this to be just right as is.  You can use half and half, or milk, depending on the richness you are after.


  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream                                                                    
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract                                                                                  
Stir together the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon, being careful not to add a lot of air.  Sugar should be somewhat dissolved.

Put the milk in a sauce pan and heat just below the boiling point (milk will form bubbles around the edges of the pan and become steamy just before boiling).

Remove the pan from the heat, and and stir just a couple Tablespoons of the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixing well the whole time.  Gradually add the rest of the milk - stirring constantly.  Return mixture to the saucepan and place on low heat.

Heat the sauce until it thickens, but do not boil!  The sauce is done when it stays on the spoon without dripping - about 5 minutes.  Do not overheat, or it will curdle!

As soon as the sauce is thickened remove it from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla extract and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to desired serving temperature.  Can serve warm or cold.

Makes 2 cups.

Instead of Vanilla, try your favorite liqueur - cognac, rum, or Grand Mariner


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chez Daniel

It's been a year since I've been to Chez Daniel, but I think of it often.  Not only did I share the evening with one of my dearest of friends, Sheila, and even though I can not recall what we ordered, the feelings of that evening stay close. The food was divine, and I remember savoring each and every bite with an "Oh," or "Ahh,"  or "Oh my!"

I do remember that Sheila ordered a clam dish of sorts. I helped her open her clams - as they were plentiful!  The atmosphere is warmly lit French with exquisite decor!  We had close attention from the waitress and it was truly a dinner extraordinaire!


Chez Daniel offers elegant yet unpretentious French cuisine.  Independently owned and under the leadership of Executive Chef Pierre Jean Laupies - a native of Southern France, yet there is no snobbery here!

A Sunday brunch is offered, private dining options, weekly specials, happy hours, and a unique experience for students of French language classes in middle or high school where only French is spoken.

What I do remember is that we finished our meals with two delicious coffee drinks:  The Nutty Italian, and The Nutty Irishman.  Fitting!

  2800 American Boulevard West
Bloomington, MN 55431

and get this ...

Complimentary shuttle service to/from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and the Mall of America.        

very cool.                                                               

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Savory Salmon Bread

Savory food is categorized as any food that is not sweet and filled with fragrant herbs, exotic oils, or flavorful cheeses.  I recently attended a French party in which I needed to acquire a French repertoire in the kitchen, so I yanked out my French apron.  :)

After the party, I took liberties with the recipe to create an even - more - flavorful bread.  I used smoke salmon this time, broke the salmon into much finer pieces, and added a topping which melded the flavors of dill, lemon, and salmon much more eloquently.  


  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal                                                                      
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup half and half milk
  • 2/3 cup smoked salmon
  • 4 leeks, white part only
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Clean the leeks, cutting off the tougher green tops and root ends.
Rinse leeks very well and chop.
Saute  for 10 min.

Mix all, except salmon, with whip until blended.

Add 2/3 cup chopped smoked salmon and mix just until blended.  Do not over mix.



1/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh dill

Mix well, and add to the top of batter in loaf pans.

10 mini-loaf pans, greased
Fill with batter 3/4 full
With small spoon or small melon-baller, place 2 dollops of topping on top of batter in each pan.
Bake at 375 for 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans.

If using 9 or 10 inch loaf pans, cook at 350 for 50-60 minutes.


How do you serve the darn thing?!

Cut into bite sized cubes, serve on platter with toothpicks.

  Or ...

As an entree:

Place a slice on mixed baby greens, a few sliced vegetables, and a wedge of lemon.  A bit o lemon can bring out the lovely flavor of salmon.  This can be made a day in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated.  Allow to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.


Many changes can be made to this recipe successfully.  You can leave out the cheese if you want a lighter bread.  Use green onions instead of leeks.  You can leave out the mustard, or use fresh salmon - sauteed instead of the smoked salmon.  Toss in some oven-dried tomatoes.  Creativity is the key to great savory breads!  Other fresh herbs that can be used are: 2 Tbsp. Tarragon, Sorrel, or Basil, chopped.

                                                                      Wine pairings:

Pinot Noir

Many fine selections were savored

nous aimons les hommes français


Monday, November 14, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

I've been using this recipe for over 20 years, but had gotten away from it in recent years.  Going to Moscow On The Hill inspired me to tattle - with great success!  Make as much of the sauce as you like, for it can be used on mashed potatoes, and over any type of beef to add tingle.  Adjust it according to your likes ... use an onion instead of shallots, use sour cream in place of whipping cream.  Many times I have tripled the sauce, and have never regretted it!                                                                                    

Many variations are out there, and it's fun to play around with flavors.  Use chicken instead of beef, use rice instead of noodles, throw in some corn and delight the kids!  It can also be used as a crepe filling.  Explore, it's the fun in cooking and it's what makes it "your own."

Centuries ago cooks threw in bay leaves, bacon, lemon juice, vinegar, mace, ginger, and saffron.  Apparently the mushrooms are not authentic, but I can't do without!  The Russians usually serve this with Julienne Potatoes instead of noodles.  So, if you're feeling a little "Russian,"  pull out the spuds!  Remember, spuds are sexy.


2 lbs beef tenderloin cut into strips. (can use round steak, or even roast.)
2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 cup consomme, or beef broth
1 lb small button mushrooms - thickly sliced
2 Tbs cognac
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs fresh chopped Dill                                                                  

12 oz wide egg noodles
1 Tbs paprika


Season meat with salt and pepper,  brown in oil on high heat approximately 2-3 minutes.

Melt 2 Tbs butter and saute shallots about 2 minutes.

Add mushrooms, season with pepper, continue to saute.

Add consomme and cognac.

Simmer until liquid thickens and just coats mushrooms, about 14 minutes.

Stir in whipping cream, sour cream, and mustard.

Add meat and simmer over medium-low heat until heated through.

Stir in chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook noodles and toss with 1 Tbsp butter.

Distribute noodles on plates, top with meat sauce and sprinkle generously with paprika.


Pinot Noir


Just don't.

                                                                    Not here, not now.

Do this, don't talk to me.

                                                                           Don't even.


Walk away now.

                                                        You'll be on the street by midnight.

There was a woman feeling hungry,
And needing something filling,
So she went into a restaurant,
That everyone gave top billing.

She asked for a recommendation,
The waiter gave a gentle cough,
'We will give you the speciality,
Our famous beef stroganoff.'


                                                                                    Без перевода!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moscow On The Hill


I put on my taupe sweater with matching pumps and headed to Moscow.  Along with twenty-two others that were looking for some Russian delight in their evening, we managed to share each other's Borscht Soup (served authentically hot with a dollop of sour cream and dill) - Pelmenis (filled, hand-made dumplings), Cabbage Rolls, and the best dog-gone Beef Stroganoff I ever laid my lips on.  No kidding.  There was one problem though - The company was so fine, I talked more than I ate, and before I knew it I looked up to see everyone's plates were gone and mine was still  in front of me mostly filled.  Needless to say my daughter, Hannah, appreciated the leftovers with me the next day.

Moscow on the Hill is also a Vodka Lounge.  Russians do not consider their meal complete without vodka, and neither did we.  It not only thaws you, but also breaks the social ice!  This is home of the first and only  horseradish infused vodka - family created, and could quite possibly create families!  I started the evening with a pear infused champagne that delighted my senses and woke my pours from a hard-day's work.  My friend, Milind, knowing I love all things coffee, encouraged me to sample his coffee martini.  My oh my, he had to beg it back, so I had to order my own.  Since I recently learned how to infuse vodka, this will definitely be my next exploration.
Moscow On The Hill has a wonderful happy hour, they offer catering, Banquets, take out, and patio dining.  The menu is rich with favorite Russian delicacies.  Some have a noticeable French, Mediterranean, and far-Eastern influence.  They have won over eleven awards.  They also won twenty-three thumbs up on this particular night.


                                As you can see by all the spoons, dessert was shared as well.

                                                 371 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN  55102

Following dinner, a small group slipped away to the cellar of  W.A. Frost, across the street.  But that's another story, for another day.

                                                                                Na Zdorovie!