Thursday, December 19, 2013


I know it is been a long while, biut I have retired from my career in library manangement and moved from my home in suburban Chicago to the south, Asheville North Carolina to be exact.  Beginning in the new year I will restart my food blog and focus on the style of Southern food.  I hope you enjoy the new information and please do ask questions as you need.

Have a Happy Holiday and a Very Happy New Year


Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Love Thai Food

I know it's been a while since I posted, but life has been hectic.  A week ago, I attended a Thai Dinner Party cooking class.  I have always loved Thai food and discovered that it is not as difficult as I had expected to prepare..  A lot of preliminary cutting and chopping but it comes out excellent.  For my Table, I changed the menu a bit from what we did and made some adjustments in the recipes.  Overall I liked this and the spicy heat did not make my lips numb as they did in class.  Here is what was on Marilyn's Table:


The martini is very simple and done in a blender.  Chopped mango, simple syrup, and lime juice in a blender until smooth.  If it is too thick, add a bit of water.  Run a lime around the rim of a martini glass and dip in a plate of sugar and finely minced basil.  Rum or Vodka is optional and I chose to leave it 'virgin'.  A nice and  sweet, but not too sweet drink to serve with the satay and peanut sauce.

Chicken strips are woven on to wooden skewers that have been soaked in water.  They are marinated in lime juice, canola oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and a bit of red pepper.

While they marinate, make the dipping sauce.. Peanut butter, lite coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and a bit of red pepper flakes are mixed together.  The chicken strips are removed from the marinade and grilled until done.  The dipping sauce is excellent with the chicken.

Pad Thai was a new experience for me.  I had not worked with dried rice noodles before, but found them to be easy to work with.  The noodles are soaked in hot water until they soften, drain and cut up or leave whole, your choice.  In a wok heat peanut oil and saute garlic intill golden, add beaten egg and stir until egg is cooked.  Mung bean sprouts, chopped scallion greens, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and chili-garlic sauce are added.. Heat through.  I had oven roasted a pound of shrimp earlier so I did not add the shrimp until the end and just to heat thourgh.  Plate and top with more green scallions and chopped peanuts.  I will do this again, but perhaps add another egg and more green scallions. The roasted shrimp were perfect and I was happy I had not cooked them in the mixture.

My original plan was to also have a spring roll, but the papaya I bought was very bitter, so perhaps another time.  Thai food is a new favorite and soon I will prepare more from this Asian country.

Next week I will travel north to visit family in Middleton.  Grand daugher is home from her first year in college and I am anxious to here about her adventures.  I will take a Whoopy Pie Cake to celebrate.  We also will visit Mineral Point for an outing.  I hope to be back in a couple of weeks with another Table.

Enjoy the nice weather, I think winter is finally finished with us.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese New Year

I hardly know where to begin.  I usually do Mardi Gras, but since the Chinese New Year came at the same time, I thought I'd attempt a Chinese menu.  This is the year of the snake, but not a chance I was going to prepare a snake in any meal.  I did some research and learned some interesting things. Did you know it's bad luck to break crockery to begin a New Year?  All dead houseplants should be replaced with fresh live ones? My favorite is to settle all debts and start the New Year with a clean slate...good luck with that! When it comes to food and cooking the New Years' meal some foods are symbols for the year. When cooking  noodles, don't cut them and you will have a long life. Serving Chinese Tea Eggs on New Years' indicates a year of wealth, but my favorite is prepare a whole fish in order to have more than enough of everything in the coming year! Works for me and so this is what is on Marilyn's Table in celebration of Chinese New Year:

Ginger Ale Cocktail
Dan-Dan Noodles
Chinese Tea Eggs
Baby Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms
Braised Sea Bass in Chili Bean Sauce

This was a very labor intensive meal; lots of chopping and slicing. The cocktail is made with a ginger simple syrup, club soda, orange and lime juice and rum over ice.  Quite refreshing but I wish I had purchased a regular size bottle of rum instead of the single serving one.  The ginger simple syrup took the longest to make.  Simmer sugar and water together and add lots of sliced fresh ginger and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Strain and refrigerate.  The aroma of simmering ginger filled the house.

Next came the Chinese Tea Eggs.  Eggs are simmered in boiling water for only 3 minutes.  Leaving the water in the pan, spoon out the eggs and run under cold water until they can be held.  With the back of a spoon, gently crack the eggs and return to the pot of water along with, soy sauce, star anise, black tea (in bags), stick cinnamon, peppercorns, sugar and strips of orange peel.  Simmer for another 40 minutes and set aside to cool for at least 5 hours, turning the eggs occasionally so all the cracks are exposed to the broth. When they are cool, peel and (surprise) the egg white has a lovely brown pattern.  The white takes on just a bit of the flavor of the simmering liquid.

The Dan-Dan Noodles are more of a soup than a noodle dish. Toasted sesame seeds are blended with sesame oil a bit of sugar and salt to form a powder. This is sprinkled over the finished dish before serving. Diced dill pickles, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt and sugar are stir fried in a wok. A mixture of vegetable broth and soy sauce is added. In a small skillet brown ground pork with vegetable oil and add soy sauce at the end.  Add to the mixture in the wok along with the whole noodles. I used soba, because they are my favorite. Add more broth if needed as noodles cook. Stir in some chopped baby bok choy and simmer until just wilted. Serve in a bowl and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and the sesame seed powder.

I guess you would call the next dish a salad?  Baby bok choy has the tough stems removed and lightly steam the leaves. Set them aside.  Slice shitake mushroom caps (not the stems, they are tough and thrown away) and saute in oil with chopped garlic, and ginger.  Add a bit of  vegetable broth, soy sauce, and chili sauce. Spoon over the bok choy leaves and garnish with sliced scallions. Serve with one of the eggs.

The main event is the fish. The sea bass was sprinkled with salt and allowed to sit for about 15 minutes.  Wipe the fish dry.  In a wok heat oil until very hot.  Add whole fish (watch out for splattering).  Spoon the hot oil over the fish being sure the whole fish is golden.  Remove to a platter and discard the oil in the pan.  add a bit more of oil and stir in chili bean paste and stir.  Add minced ginger and garlic.  Then add some chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Return the fish to the pan.  Turn the pan and spoon the broth over the fish until it is cooked through. Stir in some sliced scallions and turn off the heat.  Serve the fish on an oval dish and spoon the broth over the top.  Another drizzle of the sesame oil and it's ready to serve.

As I said at the beginning this was a very labor intensive meal, but on the whole I thought it was worth the effort.....once!  Some of the dishes I will prepare again, just not anytime soon. The drink was good.  The tea eggs were fun to make, but not something I will likely do again. I prefer plain old deviled eggs. The noodle dish was excellent  and reheated very well for lunches this week. I will make the bok choy salad again and the fish? It was good, but too tedious.  I will oven roast the sea bass next time.

If I am to believe the superstition that goes with the food, I will have a long life since the noodles where whole, I will be wealthy because of the tea eggs and I will have more than enough of everything I need for preparing the fish.  We shall see. Just don't bring any snakes into the mix.

Have a great week and next week will be much simpler.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Super Bowl Munchies

I am a big football fan so the Super Bowl was on my calendar for Sunday evening.  Because I went to my Aunt's 100th birthday in the afternoon, I needed to have make ahead food for the Table. Here is what I made:

Mexican Potato Nachos
Crispy Baked Chicken Wings with and without Ginger-Soy Glaze
Yogurt Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Stella Artois

The nachos were pretty typical, except the chips were replaced by thinly sliced crispy roasted potatoes.  Browned chopped sirloin, black beans, and taco seasoning topped the slices.  Lettuce, chopped tomato and guacamole garnished them.  I really liked this and I didn't have to buy a huge bag of chips. 

I divided the wings in half and marinated one half in oil, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and hot pepper sauce.  The other half were marinated in honey, soy sauce, crushed garlic and chopped fresh ginger.  I baked them on a jelly roll pan covered in foil and a rack.  The wings cook on all sides and the excess marinade drips off.  The dipping sauce is made from fat free Greek Yogurt, minced garlic, and blue cheese crumbles.  This was an excellent substitute for the rich sour cream blue cheese I have used in the past.

Stella Artois was the beer of choice. The game and the munchies made for a relaxing evening.

Next week would have been a Mardi Gras menu, however, it is also the Chinese New Year. So instead of New Orleans food, I'm thinking celebrating with Chinese food for that New Year.  Have a great week and stay warm.  Strange weather!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I love a brunch in the winter.  This winter has not been much of a one.  Just a bit of snow and not a lot of cold.  However, I found some recipes for brunch that I really wanted to try.  So here is what is on my Table:

Pannetone French Toast with Cranberry and Apricot Maple Syrup
Fried Egg over Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto with Hollandaise
Raspberry and Mango Sorbet in Sparkling Wine with Gingerbread Biscotti

I received a small pannetone for Christmas.  It's something I look forward to.  It makes lovely French toast, dipped in egg and milk and gently grilled.  I mixed dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots with some maple syrup and melted butter.  Spooned over the toast made for a wonderful, not too sweet beginning.

A few weeks ago, Ina Garten prepared the egg dish on her show filmed in the Napa Sonoma Valley.  The plate looked lovely and sounded so good. The asparagus is tossed with a bit of EVOO, salt and pepper and roasted for about 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes I added thinly sliced prosciutto to roast as well.  In a small frying pan, butter is melted and an egg cooked very slowly until the white is cooked, but the yellow is still runny.  

Hollandaise has always been a mystery to me.  I was never happy with the results.  This recipe is done in a blender and came out perfectly.  Two large egg yolks, at room temperature, are put in a blender along with lemon juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. It is processed on low for about 15 seconds.  Slowly melted butter is added to the egg/lemon mixture for about 30 seconds.  The sauce is thick and creamy.  I was then able to assemble the dish.  Roasted asparagus on the plate, two slices of the prosciutto over them; the cooked egg is set on top of the prosciutto and the dish is drizzled with the warm hollandaise.  A great mix of tastes and textures. 

The dessert was served a bit later in the day.  A scoop of sorbet (your choice) is put in a glass and sparkling wine poured over.  I had some gingerbread biscotti that was given to me that went very will with the sorbet wine drink.  

This was  a lovely meal and I won't wait so long to have another brunch.  Next week is the Super Bowl and I will have some traditional appetizers to enjoy with the game.  But first, I will be attending a birthday party for my Aunt 'Nita.  She is celebrating 'The Big One'.  100 years old!  An amazing lady. 

Have a great week.