Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring Green

On my way up to Petaluma to have lunch with cousin J-Yah, I stopped at the Thursday Marin Farmer's Market and scored some treasures for dinner, fresh asparagus and the last bunch of green garlic at the Full Belly Farm stand. They also had some gorgeous little dried cranberry beans and popcorn, which I will try later, but today the fresh spring greens were calling my name.

I like fresh veggies cooked as simply as possible, so all I did was butter steam a few fat spears of asparagus in the same saute pan as the halved green garlic until the asparagus was bright green and the garlic had relaxed its tight formation a little and was slightly browned on the outside leaves. Like the lovely spring ramps we used to enjoy when the snow melted in upstate New York, the green garlic lent a mild flavor to the already fresh and flavorful asparagus. Heavenly spring green!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hot Chocolate Swoon

After I wrote about the chocolat chaud we had in Paris, Michelle left a thoughtful zinger in the comments section of that post with a simple recipe for hot chocolate. This morning, having completed my morning walk, I was feeling a little bit chilled and the recipe came to mind.


I had some Callebaut left over in the pantry, plus the cayenne and milk that were the only other ingredients so I slivered the chocolate, heated the milk and cayenne and, wow, Swoon City!

It's a little different than the French hot chocolate but perhaps what's missing is the whiff of tobacco from a nearby table? While the French have finally banned smoking indoors at restaurants (hallelujah!), they still allow it in the sidewalk cafes and, strange as it may seem, I rather enjoyed that many people chose to eat and sip outdoors in rainy 50-degree weather rather than give up the pleasure of their cigarettes. Maybe it's the reformed smoker in me.

In any case, this hot chocolate will be my treat whenever the mood strikes me again!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008


The artichokes in the market were just so beautiful this year that we had to buy more! Serendipitously, Molly's latest article in Bon Appetit magazine had to do with making one's own mayonaise. Since she was brave and tried, it, I figured I could, too.

Following her directions, which were pretty darn simple, I beat the egg yolk with the vinegar/lemon juice mixture, then added the oil drop by drop until the mixture got stiff, after which I could add the oil a little bit faster. It made a lovely, smooth, earthy, softly yellow mayo that was scrumptious with the steamed artichokes.

This one was made with olive oil and a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar - next time, I'm going for all lemon juice and I might try a milder oil for things that won't stand up to its fruity smell and taste. But, with spring artichokes, MB and I agreed it couldn't be bettered except, just possibly, by melted butter with lemon!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Next Summer's Peaches

While we were in Paris, our peach and flowering crabapple trees burst into colorful to life again. Luckily, the flowering lasted long enough for us to enjoy it upon our return.

For my Easter dinner table, I needed a few flowers to fill the lovely little vases our friends J and J gave me but as I snipped I realized that I was reducing my future peach harvest for a little frivolous beauty today.

Life is full of tough choices; this time, aesthetics won over practicality.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Never mind my soul, chicken soup for my nose!

Having caught a nasty bug on our last day in France, I was feeling pretty low down and cranky in my first week as an officially retired person. Then, I had the bright idea to make myself some chicken soup from the bones of our latest roast. I scrounged around in the crisper for an onion, some celery, a frizzle of parsley and wished for a carrot that I didn't have. Cutting them all coarsely, I added them to the mostly picked chicken bones in my largest pot, added a little s & p, a smattering of thyme, and covered the whole gmish with water.

After bringing the pot to a boil, I covered it and let it simmer for several hours to steep out all the goodness. When I strained it, the veggies had all gone limp, the meat was falling off the bones and the stock itself was a rich golden brown. I added back in some of the picked chicken meat and poured myself a big bowl of cure. Started to feel better almost immediately!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


My brother's wife makes cassoulet that is to die for. She soaks her own beans, makes her own sausage from scratch, prepares all the other meats and ingredients, and presents us, when we are lucky enough to wheedle her into that much work, with a simply ambrosial dinner. I wondered if cassoulet in France could measure up.

The answer is, not quite. However, the cassoulet I enjoyed at the Auberge du Jarente, a Basque restaurant in the Marais section of Paris, was rich with sausage, beans, duck and pork and was very, very good. Both times I have enjoyed this tiny restaurant, the food has been excellent and the friendly patrons even more fun than the victuals.

The first time we ate there, two years ago, the lunch we ordered did not come with wine and we didn't think to order any - incroyable! to the two dapper French gentlemen seated at the next table. They struck up a conversation and remarked upon the lack of wine, insisting that we share their bottle! Who says the French are unfriendly? It was a lovely wine, too - Franco-American relations took a good turn that day.

This time, even though we had ordered wine, we met another couple from the Bay Area as well as a lovely family of Parisians who complemented us on our choice of domicile, saying that they had visited San Francisco and loved it. They complimented San Francisco on its fine food, high praise indeed from Parisians!

We toasted my sister-in-law as we enjoyed our cassoulet - nearly as good as hers and the bonhomie gave it just the right feeling.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Serious Cooking

In serious business since 1820, no chi-chi poo-poo cooking store with cutesie little stuff, this is truly a cook's store, featuring whisks of every size and description, a plethora of pastry pans and bags, pots large enough for your average cannibal's dinner and oars (literally) for stirring the contents.

An amazing place for a simple home cook to visit on a trip to Paris, Dehillerin is on the rue Coquilliere, happily just steps away from Au Pied du Cochon where the raw oysters and onion soup are straight from heaven. And, if you're of a mind to absorb a little architectural splendor, skip next door to admire St. Eustache, a gothic cathedral that we admired even more than Notre Dame, which seems dark and brooding compared to this later, lighter and more joyous church. I particularly liked the stained glass window of St. Louis (a king of France) as a boy getting his education from elders with his mother looking on - his feet don't even touch the floor in the huge chair he is occupying. Charming. We loved St. Eustache so much that we gave it a nickname - St. Moustache.

Dehillerin is a shrine to a different faith than St. Moustache, and Paris is a temple to both.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chocolat Chaud

Hot chocolate. Hadn't tasted it in years. It always seemed like a kid's drink. On a whim on a chilly day in Paris, I ordered it and, wow, this stuff is not just for kids!

Rich and robust, warming and comforting at the same time, it made the gray Paris skies seem brighter. It was so strong that poured like syrup and was served with sugar packets snuggled alongside the cup. I didn't need them but I could see how others might - this stuff was as intense as coffee, not for wimps - the espresso of the chocolate world.

Many of the flavors we encountered were like this - stronger, more pronounced than the same food would be at home, each distinct and hearty. No wonder French food is rated so highly, when something as mundane as hot chocolate is taken seriously and raised to ambrosial standards!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Diaspora from Liege

When My Beloved and I spent two weeks in Belgium about four years ago, we discovered a heavenly dessert named ostensibly for the city of its origin, Cafe' Liegeois. The version we were served in Paris was different, but no less delicious. It contained the same ingredients - coffee ice cream, whipped cream and coffee syrup - but combined in a different way.

The French version is a coffee sundae but with such a more distinct coffee flavor than we enjoy in ice cream here in California. While nearly as sweet and creamy, somehow the French manage to get much more of the coffee essence into the mix. The result is as decadent and luxurious a dessert as one could ask for.

I asked for it more than once.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tarte Tatin Detente

When I lived in France many years ago, Tarte Tatin was a favorite selection from the local patisserie. The single layer of thin, overlapping slices of apple, precise as the scales on a fish and sealed over a light crust with a fruit glaze was different than American apple pie, and wonderfully so.

Judging by our latest trip to Paris,Tarte Tatin seems to have evolved since those long-ago days into a new and even more delicious iteration that we enjoyed on more than one occasion on our Paris trip.

Now, when you order Tarte Tatin, it comes piled high with thin slices of very soft fruit and accompanied with creme fraiche to drizzle over the top. It's like American apple pie minus the top crust and half the sugar, offered with savory creme fraiche in place of the cheddar cheese we sometimes serve with it. In the intervening years, we seem to have achieved a compromise in the world of apple desserts, beefing up the apple content but reducing the crust quotient. Treaty negotiators could learn something from this win-win scenario.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Eggs

I hope you can see the many colors of these eggs from Marin Sun Farms on your screen. I was charmed and surprised to discover, in addition to five conventional brown, there were also three pinks, a sort of lavender-mauve, a pale green, a whitish-gray and a tiny cafe au lait egg with dark brown spots.

Easter eggs!

It dawned on me when I opened this box why the candy eggs we treat ourselves to at Easter time are in pastel colors! Because wild bird's eggs and even domestic chicken eggs come in a variety of colors, mostly pale and subtle. A Eureka moment for me.

My religion has evolved over my lifetime from my Roman Catholic beginnings to more-or-less Pagan currently, so Happy Spring Equinox, people, and enjoy your Easter eggs!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Le Flore en L'Ile

Having walked from our apartment in the Marais to the Ile de la Cite' and admired both the inside of Sainte-Chapelle and the outside of Notre Dame, (we did go in but Notre Dame was simply packed with school groups and tourists so we were swept around the church in a human current at a pace that didn't encourage gazing and appreciation), found the marker in the plaza from which all distances in France are measured, admired the equestrian statue of Charlemagne and mourned over the Deportation memorial, we were more than ready for lunch. We crossed the little bridge from the Ile de la Cite' to the Ile St. Louis and ate at a little restaurant with a dark green awning at the foot of the bridge, Le Flore en l'Ile. The heavens opened just as we sat down to eat, making us feel doubly blessed to be indoors in such a special setting.

The omelet with ham, cheese and mushrooms was perfectly cooked, the green salad was lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and the frites were crisp on the outside but almost creamy on the inside. The view of Notre Dame
floating on her neighboring island completed the perfect lunch in this elegant little restaurant and the rest prepared us for the other half of our day admiring Paris on shank's mare.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tea and Pine Nuts

After our sumptuous Sunday lunch at Chez Jaafar, none of us was hungry for dessert so our host suggested that we order instead a pot of tea.

First came the dainty glass decorated with gold and filled with fresh mint leaves. Then, the strong, very sweet tea was poured with a high flourish from a narrow waisted silver pot with a curvy spout. M. Jaafar explained that it was important to aerate the tea by pouring it from a height, but none of us could achieve his expertise without thoroughly wetting the table cloth. After the tea steeped with the mint for a few minutes, we added toasted pine nuts and enjoyed the interesting flavors of tea, nuts and mint all mingled together, a fitting end to a fine Sunday lunch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


One of my favorite things about moving to the bay area twelve years ago was the diversity. Where I lived in upstate New York, diversity meant either black or white, with perhaps a sprinkling of Asian. Having lived before that in Hawaii and California, I missed all those shades in between. When I moved back to California, there it was again, reflected also in the cuisines, all the variety and inventiveness than hungry humans bring to the table.

Yes, we went to Paris last week to enjoy French food, but we also loved the diversity of cultures we found there, too. To wit, Tunisian couscous and tagine at Chez Jaafar on the Left Bank near Les Deux Magots and St. Germain des Pre. Just the name Chez Jaafar is richer than either the French or the Tunisian words alone would have been.

The flavors were wonderfully combined, too. I chose a plate of the house specialty and enjoyed all in the same stew poured over tender couscous the distinct tastes of lamb, merguez sausage and meatballs flavored with mint blended with winter veggies like carrot, turnip, rutabaga and potato in a sauce that featured tomatoes from last summer, mysteriously revitalized in March. The couscous, veggie sauce and grilled meats were each offered separately so I could enjoy any combination I preferred. Just the plate alone was beautiful enough to eat.

Sunday lunch on the Left Bank in Paris. Vive la diversite'!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish as Paddy's Pig

Because this is mainly a food blog and my Dad only ever cooked frozen peas, scrambled eggs and gin-and-tonics for me, he doesn't show up here as often as my mother does. But, he was "Irish as Paddy's pig" so it seems appropriate to talk about him on St. Patrick's Day.

Dad came from a Navy family, the first son of a battleship captain whose parents had emigrated during the famine from different places in Ireland, met in Holyoke, Massachusetts and married there. Grandfather Hyland went to the U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1900 and Dad and his brother Bill followed in those footsteps in the classes of 1934 and 1935. Their sister, Virginia, joined the Navy during the Second World War, too - she was in the first class of WAVES.

My mother's somewhat patrician New York Social Register family was not thrilled to hear she wanted to marry an Irish Catholic Naval aviator that she met a friend's wedding but she was nuts about the guy and she prevailed. When she would talk about her illustrious ancestors (she was descended from President John Adams), we'd ask Dad about his and he always said, with a twinkle, "After they hung all the horse thieves and murderers, we've been a very pure line since then."

A dear friend, Beth Jussel, coined the term "Admiral Honey" and it fit him so well that his close friends adopted it immediately. He was the sweetest, funniest man ever to wear a uniform, and a darn good flyer, too. When he won a prestigious medal for combat flying during the war, his mother in law wrote him a letter of praise, saying how proud she was of his service record and how honored they were to have him as a member of their family. Since she was a major force in trying to dissuade Mom from marrying him five years earlier, the letter meant a lot to him; I found it still among his papers after he died, 50 years later.

He loved my mother, us kids, the Navy, tennis and a good joke, more or less in that order. His highest praise was, "He did his duty." He was, as you would expect, politically conservative and he was always baffled as to how he could have produced such a left-wing tree-hugging daughter as me - we had great fun arguing politics on the lanai, both of us with a skinful of gin and absolutely certain that we were right. He holds the family record for having learned computers at a late age - he was 83 when he got his first one.

There are better pictures of him at this website and a rather sweet little story written by a man under his command: - Dad's is the middle picture in the first row you come to as you scroll down. The picture at the top of this post is the only one I could find to steal from a website - he's shaking hands with some Australian naval officers. Dad had a great career and retired as a four-star admiral, his last duty station was Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.

He loved to quote W.B. Yeats about the Irish, "When God made the Irish,
He must have been mad.
All their wars are merry,
All their music sad."

One of my favorite memories is of him on St. Patrick's Day a year or two before he died, wearing a green plastic derby, head thrown back and lustily singing, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure they'll steal your heart a-waaaaaaaaay!"

I miss him still. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Notre Dame morning, Golden Gate evening

We are back. It was wonderful! It rained every day for at least part of the day. It was still wonderful! The grey sky made just the right backdrop for Notre Dame and for the pink flowering trees.

We didn't sleep well, we were a little woozy with jet lag and I caught a cold on the last day. It was still wonderful!

We walked our feet off from morning to evening, only sitting down gratefully on the occasional blessedly placed museum bench, church pew or bistro chair. It was still wonderful!

I wouldn't have missed a single sight: the intense double rainbow against a dark sky after a downpour when we sheltered in the Palais Royal; the blooming of chic umbrellas whenever a rain shower turned serious (yes, the French even concern themselves with the style of their umbrellas!); the reflection of the age-old buildings in the rain-shiny streets. It was a visual paradise.

I wouldn't have missed the sounds: the Gypsies in the Metro car playing on a squeezebox music so typically French that it brought tears to the eyes; the rich, deep voice of a Spaniard playing a guitar in the tunnels of the Metro; the impatient rattle of a diesel engine paused at a stoplight; the organ at St. Eustache being tuned up for a concert; the high piping voices of French children at play.

I loved the scents: The smell of roasting chestnuts on the late winter air; of cooking food as we passed different restaurants; of cafe creme with a pastry; and of tea with orange peel.

I wouldn't have missed a single taste: Tunisian couscous; mint tea; rich chocolates; tarte tatin with creme fraiche; entrecote with mustard sauce; Basque cassoulet; and the most intense coffee ice cream it has ever been my pleasure to dribble down my shirt front!

We left only reluctantly, vowing to return as often as we can. As My Beloved exclaimed on our first trip to Paris, "You know I love San Francisco, but this is a great town!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Paprika, Flipflops and the Future

This is my last day of work. I'm retiring from 20+ years as a college career counselor - 40 years as a worker bee of one description or another - and heading to Paris for a week to celebrate the start of the next stage of my life.

I have loved my work and am choosing to leave it while I still love it. I want the memories to be good ones. But that's also what makes leaving a bittersweet experience.

I will miss my students - they give me hope with their quick minds and bright futures. I'm a little concerned that I'll become old and boring without daily exposure to those wonderful young people and the goofy situations they sometimes get themselves into, despite their brilliance. Like the young man who left his dress shoes on the roof of his car - they fell off unnoticed somewhere between home and his interview with a large, prestigious law firm so he had to interview in his flipflops - he had such self possession that he got the job anyway, but we had a big laugh over that one!

I will also miss gestures like the one a favorite student gave me last week. Having heard of my retirement, she brought me this handwritten thank you note, a beautifully decorated plate from Hungary and a packet of lovely dark red paprika from Budapest where she spent last summer learning about the law. Every time I use the paprika, I will remember the progress she made - working with her was like watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon.

I've been honored to work with them, to give them the small support and advice they need before they are off and flying on their own. I often think of my work as being similar to obstetrics - both serve mostly healthy clients who only need our expertise for a brief time, and then there is a happy outcome, a thriving baby or a satisfying, invigorating career.

I do have plans for my retirement, so I don't expect to be bored. There is plenty to do and I'm lucky to have the good health to pursue some of it. I'm blessed with a wonderful partner in crime who will help to keep me young at heart. And, I'm spending the first week in Paris, for heaven's sake! How sweet is that?!

But, it does feel a little like stepping off the high diving board when I was a little girl with my Dad was treading water below to encourage me and to make sure nothing bad happened. I have all the cheerleading I need but I'm still a little anxious.

I'll return in a week full of Paris stories and anticipation. Wish me luck and here goes!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sunchoke Seafood Soup

I'm a big fan of leek and potato soup. It always seems like a miracle to me that such simple ingredients - leeks, potatoes, water, salt - can make such a heavenly soup. So, when I saw a recipe recently that seemed like a riff on that, but more complex and interesting, I wanted to try it.

This recipe, a variation on the one La Tartine Gourmande posted a while back, called for Jerusalem artichokes, potato, fennel, shallots, rosemary, celery and water to make the soup base. Then, it was enriched with some creme fraiche and enhanced with shellfish at the end.

I used quickly (30 seconds) sauteed bay scallops in My Beloved's portion as he is very partial to scallops but added bay shrimp to mine - I ate too many scallops as a child and seem to have permanently injured my scallop gene.

We enjoyed the fresh veggie taste of this soup base and felt that it made a nice, lighter alternative to heavy chowders but the sunchoke flavor was rather lost. Another time, I think I'd leave out the potato and try using only the sunchokes as the base. However, it was a really nice spring soup and I'd happily make it again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I have two tweaks on the traditional tuna salad to share today, one from a friend and one from my mother.

Years ago, my friend and coworker, Darcey, introduced me to my now-favorite tuna sandwich. In an effort to get herself and her honey eating more green things, she had the idea to mix chopped broccoli in with the traditional celery in tuna salad, stumbling upon a great pairing. Now, whenever I make tuna salad, I always include the broccoli, florets, stumps and all. There is something about the broccoli that jazzes up the tuna-and-mayo yawns and just brightens the whole sandwich.

My mother was another who got bored with the same-old, same-old so she came up with the idea of adding sweet pickle relish to tuna. Believe me, it tastes better than it reads! The fiercely sweet pickles bring out the savoriness (Is that a word? Savoriety?) of the tuna.

When I'm missing these two ladies, I make myself a tuna sandwich and commune with them mentally.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chili G'mish

Every time I make chili, it's a little different. My basic recipe is to brown some ground beef, chop and saute some onions, make a sauce from tomato sauce and chili powder, add the (canned) beans, and Bob's your uncle!

It has always been satisfying and hearty and even My Beloved, who is not a huge chili fan, scarfed it up with alacrity.

This time, however, I decided to make it from scratch with dried beans from Rancho Gordo that I found at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market. The beans were irresistible, mottled with red and white. Sadly, they didn't keep their color but they were really delicious and so meaty I might actually have been able to leave out the meat. In addition to my usual onions, tomato sauce and chili powder, this "recipe" (actually, just threw in whatever I had on hand) included ground grass-fed beef from Marin Sun Farms, tomato paste, cumin, dried red pepper flakes, a generous cooking spoon full of Hungarian paprika, sliced carrots, a small can of green chiles and the lovely beans, which I soaked for an hour or two, simmered for another hour, then added to the meat sauce to finish cooking.

After the simmering, I let it stand overnight before re-heating and serving topped with grated cheddar cheese. What had started as three-alarm chili the day before mellowed as it soaked into the beans into a mildly spicy and wonderfully tasty stew. The carrots gave it some extra flavor and color interest and, although I don't normally use this yellow form of cheddar, I really liked the color contrast in the bowl this time.

Turns out you can add just about anything to chili if you start with delicious beans.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Browndied Bits

I like cauliflower of just about any description - steamed, smothered in mustard and cheese, raw in snappy florets, dunked in hummus - you name it, I've loved it. I had not, however, tried roasting it until I saw a post from Molly over at Orangette about caramelized cauliflower a while back.

She's right, it's absolutely delicious that way, sliced thinly and slowly roasted. I decided to try roasting it still in florets, just to see what happens, following her simple recipe except for the slicing. Roasting heightens the nuttiness of the cauliflower and adds the bonus of the browndied bits, which are truly delicious, but I'd have to say this experiment needed more time in the oven than I gave it (patience is not my strong suit). While it was tender and had an added layer of flavor, it didn't get as downright rich as Molly's method produces. So, stop reading this and click on over to Orangette while I figure out what more to do with this batch. Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Let Them Eat (Orange Cornmeal) Cake!

I was home with a nasty cold last week, feeling like crap and fanning the channels of daytime TV looking for anything that wasn't a soap opera or a talk show, when I stumbled across a PBS show called "Everyday Baking." John Barricelli was making a bunch of different cakes and, because we have a bumper crop of oranges just now, this one really caught my attention.

Using olive oil in the recipe and white wine, as well as cornmeal and orange zest, juice and segments, it certainly seemed interesting. But, I like food to be delicious, not just interesting!

I made the cake today; it was easy to make and exceeded my hopes, so I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Orange Cornmeal Cake

1 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little more for the pan
waxed paper or parchment paper (I used parchment)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dry white wine (or orange juice - I used the orange juice - you'll need about three large oranges to get 1/2 cup of juice, if you use fresh as I did)
1+1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of one orange
Orange segments for serving (optional, but we loved them!)

Preheat the oven to 375. Brush bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan with oil; line bottom of pan with a round of wax or parchment paper; brush paper with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and wine (or juice) until smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and orange zest; whisk gently to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup of sugar (topping will be thick and, actually, I didn't use as much as this). Bake until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, Run a knife around the edge of the cake, invert cake gently onto a plate, and remove parchment paper. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, cut the top and bottom off the oranges, then carefully cut off the rind, exposing the segments. Cut between the membranes to release segments into a bowl and squeeze what's left to get all the juice. You'll probably use about 1 orange for every two pieces of cake. With each wedge of cake, spoon over some orange segments and juice. The cake is actually quite delicious by itself, but even better with the fresh orange segments topping it.

Cake serves 8. Prep time 10 minutes. Total time 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Orange You Ever Going To Stop With the Orange Recipes?

This time, it was the asparagus that got the orange-butter-thyme treatment.

It's so easy it's kind of silly to give a recipe - basically, all I did was melt about a walnut of butter in a small saute pan, add a big pinch of thyme and cook until it smelled "thyme-ish," squeezed in about half an orange worth of juice, which reduced nicely in a very few minutes. While the sauce was reducing I rinsed the asparagus and cut it diagonally into bite-sized pieces. When the glaze was the proper consistency, the asparagus went in for a brief saute, until it was bright green and still slightly crunchy.