Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I’ll be headed to a Super Bowl party on Sunday carrying the following dish. The colorful salad scores big points for me and earns rave reviews every time I serve it. Make it yourself and become a victorious guest.

By the way, I’ll be cheering for the Steelers since I was born in Pittsburgh.

Tailgate Salad

1 bag slaw mix or 1 head Napa cabbage, sliced (I use the slaw mix)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp margarine or butter
2 packages of Ramin noodles, crushed-- no seasoning packs
2/3 cup slivered almonds
½ small jar sesame seeds (about 2 Tbsp)
½ cup oil ( I mix mostly vegetable and part sesame oil)
½ cup sugar
½ white vinegar or cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Melt butter or margarine to brown noodles. Add the almonds and sesame seeds and slight brown.( I do this the day before or earlier in the day.)

Combine oil, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Heat to dissolve sugar. (This can also be done ahead.) Let cool.

Combine slaw mix and sliced green onions.

Toss everything together right before serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Peach Cobbler

Since I did not venture to Washington for the Inaugu-ration, I decided to bake. Fact is a recipe for peach cobbler appeared all over the Internet about a week ago. Supposedly it is Barack Obama’s favorite dessert, and I must admit a fondness for cobblers myself.

Before starting, I cut the recipe in half which called for 15 cups of peaches. 15 cups? That’s an awful lot of fruit when it’s selling for $2.49 a pound (in Jacksonville, FL.) Frozen peaches were an option, but honestly, not much lower in cost.

Preparation: The recipe was easy; fill a baking pan with peaches; top with sugar mixture and butter; then add a crust.

I decided to go all out and cut my crust into patriotic star shapes. Thought it looked rather nice.

The taste test: The cobbler, though bursting with fruity flavor, was runny. “An obamanation,” declared her husband, the critic, “but the crust is terrific.” Perhaps I should have been suspect of a recipe coming from a Bait Shop?

So, I’ll throw out the file and only keep the piecrust recipe (easily made in the Cuisinart.)

If you would like to try making the cobbler, the recipe appears below, along with a few suggestions, which I think will make it less runny:

Obama Peach Cobbler
From the Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop in Chicago
Adapted by Debi Lander

Directions for a 9 x 9 inch sized baking pan

For the filling:
7 ½ cups peaches (may use frozen, thawed and drained)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. cinnamon (or more)
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces

For the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp ice water

1.Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2.To make the filling, arrange the peaches in the bottom of the prepared pan.

3.In a medium bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Drizzle over the peaches. Sprinkle the butter on top and set aside.

4.To make the crust, pulse together the flour and salt in the Cuisinart. Add the shortening and butter, pulsing until the dry ingredients are worked in and the mixture forms pea-sized lumps.

5.Slowly add the water, mixing only until the dough holds together. Do not overmix.
6.Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Roll out the dough- forming strips to be woven into a crust or cut other shapes.

7.Or for an easier crust, just roll out a square large enough to fit inside the pan. Cut a few slits in the top.

8.Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A King Cake Party

A King Cake
January 6, 2009

With New Year’s festivities over, I felt ready to stash the holiday decorations. But not before Twelfth Night; invitations to my annual King Cake Party were out.

Legend says the Wise Men, in search of baby Jesus, arrived in Bethlehem on the twelfth day after Christmas. They came to present gold, silver and myrrh. I offered my chosen guests a dinner party.

We started with pomegranate martinis and then sat down to: Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole over rice, asparagus spears and cornbread. For dessert I served King Cake along with flaming Café Brulot (see March 2008 blog entry for the coffee recipe.)

So what’s a King Cake? A circular shaped yeast bread similar to coffee cake, with a filling of brown sugar and nuts. The top is glazed with a confectioner’s sugar and water mixture, then decorated with three colors of sugar crystals: green for faith, gold for power and purple for justice, although I always was told it stood for royalty.

A plastic token representing the baby Jesus is hidden inside. The lucky person who gets the baby in his or her piece is declared King or Queen. They are to bring a King Cake to the next gathering. This year Ernie Veale won the honors.

For many, January 6th marks the beginning of Mardi Gras season- a few weeks to party and be a bit naughty before Lent. The holiday culminates in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, February 24, this year. I plan to be there.

Here’s a photo of Gary Granfield and my husband, Jay, lighting the Grand Mariner and brandy mixture which they pour down the orange peel into the coffee. Pretty impressive, I’d say.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sharks Underwater Grill: A Restaurant Review

View from inside Sharks Underwater Grill

Sea World, Orlando, Florida

Take a balmy New Year’s Day; Sea World in Orlando; two of my grandkids plus their parents—that’s a recipe for celebration.

Much has changed since 2001, when I last visited the park. The shows are more theatrical, featuring flamboyant costuming and vibrant lighting; performances resemble spectacular Cirque de Soleil acts.

The Shamu show highlights not just one, but five killer whales. And I found Shark Encounter- a 700,000 gallon aquarium containing a walk-through acrylic tunnel for viewing. Gulp.

One wall of the huge tank adjoins Sharks Underwater Grill, an upscale restaurant with a good bite. Dim lighting, coupled with illumination from the fish tank creates an eerie atmosphere, not to mention the flashing teeth on hundreds of sharks.

We stopped by to make reservations early in the day and returned to dine eye-to eye with the scary demons of the deep.

Seems rather astonishing, but upon entering the room a quiet and unrushed feeling prevails; enough to make you forget the frenzied theme park outside the door. The swaying movement from the array of creatures is mesmerizing. Many of the predators swim rapidly back and forth while others, a saw tooth shark, for example, arose from the deep only occasionally. A mammoth grouper seemed to hover near our table.

If you arrive early, check out the sleek bar-- another living seascape. The lobby contains a glowing glass cylinder filled with small neon fish that propel themselves forward or float backward. Do fish ever get dizzy?

The menu touts “Floribbean-style” food, a blend of fresh Florida and Caribbean fare. I ordered salmon filet and was extremely pleased with a tangy yet sweet sauce over the fleshy serving. A spicy side of peppery mashed potatoes and fresh vegetable medley completed my plate.

My husband enjoyed the Citrus Caesar salad, which surprised me, as he is finicky about his choice of dressing. He was disappointed, however, in the Steak en Croute, which he said lacked punch and tasted too much like hamburger.

My young grandchildren, ages 4 and 6, ordered popcorn shrimp and fries from the children’s menu. A large gummy shark adorned their dinner plates, a cute touch. We paid $2 extra for a shark cozie to surround their juice glasses - a real hit. In fact, I almost purchased a few of these clever drink coolers for an at-home pool party!

I admit I wasn’t expecting gourmet food but our dinner turned out to be the catch of the day. The food was delightfully tasty and certainly the surroundings produced an unforgettable thrill. If you go to Sea World, you owe it to yourself to dine with sharks at, none other than Sharks Underwater Grill.

7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (800) 327-2424