Who gave me the evil eye? Or was it just the stink eye?


For those of you who have blogs, you’ll understand that nagging feeling that I have when I want to post to my blog but I can’t.

You see, I’ve been going through a run of seriously bad cooking luck. It’s like I have a curse on me. It all started with a really tasty lamb stew. I can’t write about it because the Weight Watchers cookbook that I was cooking from, had a serious problem with the instructions for the stew. The author instructs you to bake it in the oven. After forty minutes you still have hard lamb which is when she instructs you to add potatoes and green beans to cook for the last twenty minutes. After twenty minutes you end up with warm but raw potatoes and green beans. I had to take the whole mess out of the oven and simmer it on the stove top for I don’t know how long until every thing got tender. So… I had no idea how I made the delicious stew and I’ll have to try it again to give you instructions. No picture to share with you. I got lucky on this one and the curse of doom did not prevent us from enjoying this meal for days.

My next attempt at something blogable was this yummy looking orzo dish:

Orzo with Artichokes

It looks pretty good in the picture. Sort of. By the way, the recipe said it was a side dish. I tried to pass it off as a main course. It was just ok served warm, but it needed something badly. I tried to squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it to give it some kick. What it really needed was something in addition to the artichoke hearts. I didn’t have much of anything in the house at the time except the exact ingredients for the recipe so it pretty much got made the way it was supposed to. My boyfriend enjoyed this dish so I’ll make it again, but next time I’ll add more veggies (roasted red peppers and/or steamed broccoli) and we’ll definitely have it as a cold pasta salad instead of a warm pasta dish. Leftovers were o.k. cold from the fridge. If you want to try it yourself, here is the link to the recipe on epicurious.com.

Look at this bread!


It looks pretty huh?

This was my failed attempt at baking for this week’s YeastSpotting event. It’s been three weeks since I contributed and I am feeling horrible about it! What’s wrong you ask? The bread looks great you say! Well, look closer. I didn’t let the bread rise long enough, or my sourdough was wimpy or I didn’t let the bread rise long enough. The bread was hard and tough! It breaks into little braid bits when I slice it. Just a few minutes ago, my boyfriend was just running around chomping on braid bits chanting, “write in your blog that I love the bread, it’s delicious, I love it, write that!!” Ugh. I’ll be trying the bread recipe again and hopefully it will work out next time, it had a good flavor and it looks pretty. I think it is salvageable.

Well. There you have it. Hopefully my bad food curse will be lifted soon and I can share something delicious with you soon. And… whoever is shooting me the evil eye… stop it!!!



If life doesn’t give you lemons, use oranges instead


Welcome to my pity party. My name is Mimi and I will be your hostess as well as the special guest of honor. Today was a bad day. It was what you might call a really bad day.

I’ve been laid off since the end of May and I’ve mostly been enjoying the boredom free time. This blog has never gotten so much attention ever from me. I have plenty of time to cook. I should be happy right? Well, wrong! Everyday, I look for a job online. Most days I find nothing in my field of expertise within a 250 mile radius. I try to find something to apply for but most of the job leads are in communities I have never even wanted to visit much less live in. So I’m never very excited about my prospects. It’s driving me crazy. Sure there were a couple of near hits. There was the university that has two job openings that I’d be perfect for but never called me back. Then there was the publishing company who put me through five interviews only to forget to let me know whether or not they have made a hiring decision. Those things made my days so much more exciting. I read the news. I know there are other people in worse situations than me, but this long drawn out waiting game is grating on my every last nerve and today I sunk into a deep and unending funk. It was really bad.

This morning, after I played my fifteenth game of spider three decks solitaire, I decided to move my depressed ass to the couch to watch the Food Network. (This was before the manic crying incident later in the afternoon). Giada was on. There she was in all of her buxom roman porn star beauty… making leftovers. Well, what she was doing was really what I call chicken evolution. She was taking leftovers and making them into something else. She made soup out of an old rotisserie chicken, crostini out of day old bread and cake out of old simple syrup (leave it to a food network star to keep simple syrup in the fridge and consider it leftovers). As I sat transfixed by Giada’s bouncing cleavage and her literally glowing teeth, I realized she was making a really amazing cake. Although I’m not always excited about the regular food she makes, I trust Giada when it comes to sweets. She has a sweet tooth and you can tell she loves to bake. If Giada didn’t come from a Hollywood family who prizes their looks we would probably mistake Giada for Ina Garten ’cause you can tell Giada likes to bake and she likes to eat!

Back to that cake. It was called Lemon Mint Cake with Lemon Syrup. It had all of the prerequisite cake ingredients but the eggs were separated and the whites were made into a stiff meringue which was folded back into the cake to make it light and fluffy. The promise of this cake was that it would have a crispy exterior, a light and fluffy interior and then a dousing of intense flavor from the syrup. As Giada cut herself a slice, I could see that her cake would live up to that promise. It looked so delicious. She took a bite and made that awful orgasmic cat call she makes when she bites into something that is supposed to be good…. But the sound was…somehow different. Perhaps genuine? Did I hear correctly, a genuine sounding orgasmic moan coming out of Giada and a pleased happy look of real contentment on her face? Rewind! Yes… I believe it’s true. I have to have this cake!!

But…Although I have a little mint in the backyard still, I have no lemons. Just a bunch of old neglected oranges. I am way to depressed to haul my butt to the store. But, orange and mint sounds great. I looked at my Boyfriend who has been giving me the look all day that a love one gives you when they wonder if they should call the suicide hotline on your behalf. I tell him, “I want to make cake will you have some?” He looks at me with a little smile on his face because he knows that baking will make me happy. (He tries to make sure I don’t see him wondering when I will go back on Weight Watchers and lose the five pounds I have managed to gain back). He says “yes, I would love some cake”.

I made that cake and it made me very happy. The crisp exterior does yield to a soft interior. It is like biting into a cloud. The syrup was heady with the scent of oranges. The whole cake was redolent of orange with just a hint of mint. Scrumptious. If I were a more outgoing person, a small orgasmic sound would have escaped my lips.

Sometimes it is the little things that keep you going.


Orange Mint Cake with Orange Syrup

Adapted from Lemon Mint Cake with Lemon Syrup by Giada De Laurentiis


3 eggs at room temperature, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

2 ½ tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp orange zest

1 cup all purpose flour


1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

¾ cup orange juice

1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9” cake pan.

In a bowl, beat olive oil and ½ cup of the sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating as they are added. Add mint, orange juice and orange zest. Add flour and beat until just combined. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a separate large bowl. Beat them until they form soft peaks. Add the other half cup of sugar and beat until the whites form stiff peaks.

Transfer ½ of the egg white mixture to the bowl with the cake batter. Carefully fold the whites into the cake batter. Add the other half of the whites and gently fold them into the batter until well combined, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake the cake 40 – 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Move the cake from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for at least twenty minutes.

To serve, spoon syrup generously over each slice of cake.

Decadent little turkey sandwiches

Turkey Sandwich

 I made rustic olive rolls and I made my delicious roasted turkey. You shouldn’t be surprised that I had sandwiches on my mind.

We love turkey sandwiches. There are so many good variations on the theme to be had all over, but I never seem to deviate from turkey and avocado on whole wheat when I make it at home. Last night I let my imagination go wild and the results were amazing! I just have to share!

One defining feature of a lot of restaurant sandwiches these days is Goop aka Secret Sauce aka Special Sauce . Yes kiddies, I have created GourmetGoop . You heard it right here. A special blend of the finest canola oil mayo and spices. GoumetGoop will probably make me famous one day, yes siree!

All nonsense aside, these sandwiches were smoky with a nice hint of blue cheese. Fresh tasting from the crispy lettuce, juicy tomato and creamy avocado. Chewy and flavorful from the homemade bread and turkey. Decadent and delicious. An absolute reward for some fun labor in the kitchen.

The following recipe is an approximation of ingredients used for one serving. Feel free to use more or less according to your taste:

Smoky blue cheese turkey sandwiches

Make GourmetGoop :

3 tbsp canola oil mayonnaise

3 – 4 cloves roasted garlic or raw garlic (see below)

¾ – 1 tsp smoked paprika

1 – 2 pinches cayenne powder

Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper

Use roasted garlic or if you don’t have any quick roast the garlic: Place garlic in a dry cast iron pan that has been heated over medium high heat. Turn the garlic occasionally to char on all sides for several minutes. When the garlic has softened, remove from pan, and cool. Peel the garlic and run it through a garlic press into a small bowl. Combine all of the remaining ingredients.

Assemble Sandwich:

1 rustic olive roll or substitute any chewy sandwich roll (French or ciabatta would be good)

GourmetGoop to taste

3-4 slices avocado

1 – 2 tsp crumbled blue cheese

2 – 3 generous slices of homemade roasted turkey or a generous serving of deli turkey

A thick slice of tomato

1 – 2 thinly sliced pieces of yellow or red onion

1 – 2 leaves red lettuce

Slice sandwich roll down the middle and spread both halves with GourmetGoop . On The top half of the bread, layer blue cheese then avocado then lettuce. On the bottom half of the bread, layer turkey, tomato and onions. Join the top and bottom of sandwich.

I’ll share a little secret with you…


It’s easy to make turkey at home and it is a thousand times better than anything you can buy at the supermarket, the deli or a restaurant. Making a half turkey breast at home is a little time consuming but it is simple. When you are done, you will have the most sublime meat ready to use for sandwiches, pastas, salads… whatever your imagination desires.

Unless it is the day after Thanksgiving, most people only consume processed turkey. Even the meat served at many restaurants identified on the menu as fresh roasted turkey is probably a little processed. It doesn’t taste the same as a fresh unprocessed bird, so I am assuming they cook a boneless turkey breast. A boneless turkey breast would also be easier for their kitchens to deal with. Here are the ingredients on a popular brand of boneless turkey breast. Not too bad, but do you really need all of the salt, sugar and additives? I don’t think you do.

The following recipe can be doubled to make a full breast but since we are a small household, I usually buy a half breast which weighs on average between two and three pounds. You will purchase a bone in, skin on breast. Like chicken breasts, having the bone in and the skin on contributes fat and flavor, giving you moist flavorful meat after the slow roasting. This recipe makes enough meat so that you will have your fill of sandwiches but you can also make a turkey tetrazzini (this one is delicious), and even a salad or two. In my opinion this is a good value for such an easy task!

Now that you know my secret, I don’t want to see you buying processed turkey meat anymore! Do you hear me? Get into that kitchen and make something delicious and healthy for yourself!

Following is the recipe for my turkey breast with soy sauce au jus. I use the au jus to make a Scotch or Jack Daniels spiked pan gravy. As a bonus, the recipe for the gravy will follow (see how much I love you? Two secrets for the price of one!). A wonderful comfort food dinner I like to make is toasted whole wheat bread, topped with roasted turkey and then smothered with the alcohol spiked gravy. Serve with steamed veggies on the side to help sop up any extra gravy. Soooooo delicious!

Turkey breast with soy sauce au jus

½ all natural or organic bone in, skin on turkey breast (approx. 2 – 3 pounds)

Juice of one small lemon or ½ large lemon

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Freshly ground black pepper

2 ½ cups water

5 – 6 tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce or Bragg liquid aminos

3 -5 whole cloves garlic, peeled

½ onion, quartered

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place the turkey in an 8” x 8” pan. I use a square Pyrex dish, but any pan than fits the turkey breast fairly snugly will do. Squeeze the lemon over the top of the breast. Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder and a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper. Do not salt the turkey, we’ll be using a generous amount of soy sauce in the pan juices which we’ll use to baste the turkey. This will be plenty of salt! Arrange the garlic and onions around the turkey breast. Pour the water into the pan. Add the soy sauce into the water.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast in the oven and roast the breast for 45 minutes per pound. Let the meat cook for about a half an hour and then baste the meat with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes until the meat is cooked. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees when poked into the thickest part of the meat. Check the meat near the end of the cooking time in case your oven runs hot.

After removing the roast from the oven, let the meat cool for at least five to ten minutes before cutting into it. This will ensure that the meat will slice evenly instead of crumbling.

The sliced meat can be dipped in the au jus as you slice it for very moist flavorful meat. The au jus can also be served on the side for dipping or use it all up to make the following gravy.

I started making this gravy using a fine single malt scotch. The scotch gives the gravy a nice smoky flavor. One day when I ran out of scotch, I used Jack Daniels whiskey instead. The whiskey gives the gravy more of a sweet flavor than the scotch but both are delicious in their own way.

Scotch spiked turkey gravy

All of the au jus from the above turkey recipe

1 – 3 tbsp unbleached white flour

2 – 3 splashes (too taste) single malt scotch or Jack Daniels whiskey

Transfer the au jus to a small sauce pan. If it is cold, warm the au jus up to a simmer, if it is fresh out of the oven, keep it heated on low. Whisk one tablespoon of flour into the au jus at a time until it just begins to thicken (depending on how much au jus you have you may not need all three tablespoons of flour). Continue to cook over low heat until thickened. Add a splash of scotch or whiskey at a time, tasting the gravy as you go until it reaches the consistency and flavor you like. Remove the gravy from the heat and use on the roasted turkey or for other goodies such as baked potatoes or biscuits.

The pitter patter of tiny buns


I am suffering from tiny bun syndrome. I know it sounds like a personal problem. Maybe it is…but wait a second…no it’s not! (But, I kind of wish it was a personal problem so that I could stop dieting). It’s just that I keep stumbling on recipes that promise me big buns. The kind that will make embarrassingly big sloppy sandwiches and I keep pulling these lovely little petite things out of the oven. It’s embarrassing. Especially because my boyfriend has a big appetite and keeps giving me a look of disappointment when he sees how small his sandwich will really be. (It never occurs to him that he will eat two sandwiches anyway and that those two sandwiches will equal the one big sandwich of his hopes and dreams). These rolls turned out to be 3” x 3” inches. Monsters I suppose, compared to the microscopic 2” x 3” ciabatta rolls I made last time.

Unlike those ciabatta rolls, these rolls made up for their diminutive size with a huge amount of flavor. I made these rolls with sourdough instead of active dry yeast and the sponge was allowed to sit for 15 hours. The fermentation was evident in the final bread. The flavor was stupendous! The recipe called for green olives. Trader Joes has a Greek olive medley composed of 4 or 5 different olives of different colors and textures. I used as many green olives as I could and supplemented them with a few black olives to get the ¾ cup needed for the recipe. I have had kalamata bread that was too salty before. These olives are much more mellow and less salty and they contributed a nice tang to the bread. The final product was sour and tangy with a soft interior and a nice crispness to the crust. I was very pleased with these rolls and look forward to making sandwiches with them.

Next time… well… I may double the recipe and then make 9 instead of 12 rolls. What do you think? Will I get the right size rolls or should I double the dough and go for even less rolls?

By the way, here is a vanity shot of the interior of the rolls (oh yeah! Light and fluffy!)


These little rolls are going out to all of you YeastSpotters. But if you haven’t seen YeastSpotting before, you are in for a treat! Click here to see what other kinds of yummies were baked up this week!

Rustic Olive Rolls

Adapted from the King Arthur flour site


½ cup water

3 tbsp sourdough starter

1 cup unbleached bread flour


All of the sponge

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup (+ 1 tbsp if needed) water

1 tsp salt

2 cups unbleached white flour

¾ cup chopped, pitted olives (Greek olives worked well – use any mild, firm less salty olives)

To make the sponge: In a large bowl, mix water, starter and flour until well combined. It will look like a little ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter 14-15 hours. (Start early in the evening if you want to bake first thing in the morning). In the morning, you should see that your little ball dough has tripled in size!

To make the dough: Add olive oil, water, salt, and flour to the sponge. Mix until well combined. My dough was very dry and wouldn’t come together. I added another tbsp of water and it seemed to hold together. You may need to as well. Just add water by the tablespoon until you get a dough forming. Turn the dough out onto a kneading surface. Knead 10-12 minutes or until the dough is soft and you can stretch it without breaking (window pane test).

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Put olives in a clean dish towel and wring out any excess liquid from them. Turn the dough out onto the kneading surface. Flatten the dough and add the olives. Knead the olives into the dough until they are well incorporated into the dough.



Pat the dough into a 9” x 9” rectangle. Be careful to make the corners as sharp as possible and the edges as straight as possible so that the rolls will have a pretty shape.


Cut the dough into six 3” x 3” rectangles. Rub flour into the surface of a clean cotton dish cloth (not terry cloth or you will be sorry) . Place the dish cloth on a hard surface like a cookie sheet. Space three pieces of dough on the dishcloth and pushing the cloth up against the edges of each dough piece to form a support. Set the other three dough pieces on the cloth and repeat so that they look like this:



Cover the dough with another clean dish towel and let it rise 1 to 2 hours until it is very puffy.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Carefully transfer the rolls to a peel that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Transfer the rolls to the stone and bake until browned, 20 – 25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Cool completely before enjoying.