Friday, January 08, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Last night we were invited to a stunningly delicious gourmet feast, prepared by Ken and Laura Wooten, owners of Orzo restaurant in Charlottesville, VA, a grand place to eat. They are visiting our friend Patty, Ken's mom, here in Santa Cruz. As anticipated, every bite was fabulous, from the carefully selected and scrumptious appetizers (sizzling dates wrapped in bacon; alderwood smoked salmon with dill sauce; a Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk triple cream cheese) to the superb salad, leg of lamb, mashed roasted veggies, and wonderful broccoli rabe, followed by a variety of pears and cookies purchased at the divine Ferry Building in San Francisco. Wine pairings with everything. Yum!!! Thanks Ken & Laura!!

What struck me at the dinner was when 6 year old Max, a charmer in every way, asked "can we play our dinner game?" It turns out that whenever this lovely family has dinner together they share the following two questions: 1) what was the best part of your day? 2) what was the worst part of your day? We proceeded to have this conversation around the table with much laughter and love exchanged. Honestly I was amazed that I had big difficulty finding any "worst part" of my day.
In fact my day, yesterday, was so terrific. I took our two dogs to the beach for starters, and the weather and conditions were just perfect. Nobody much was there, and dogs were overjoyed. Next I picked up my grandson, Desmond, and took him to a park where he clambered around on all the slides, swings, and climbing areas until I noticed him rubbing his eyes, whereupon I scooped him up and took him home for a nap. While he slept I read a book (Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Nieffeneger) and rested, and then his Mom returned and I came home. There was a phone call from Daniella with the message that our friends Wendy and Judy (traveling companions in Korea) were planning a new trip to Turkey in April/May and wanted us to join them once again - but we had to decide immediately. I took about 10 minutes to consider it, then phoned back and said "Yes! Let's do it!". Yipes, the audacity of that moment, like leaping off a cliff when I had no idea of what was down there. It was scary but also exhilarating, and details will need a lot of work. But hey, we're not getting any younger, and Turkey has always been on my wish list of places to go. Finally, after another neighborhood dog walk, we went out for that fabulous dinner I described above. Now how can anyone find a "worst" moment in all that?!?So this post is really just to record, for what it's worth, the happiness of yesterday, the general contentment I have with my life right now, and the awareness of being blessed beyond measure. I am so blessed! It's huge.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chile Relleno Casserole Recipe

So many people asked for the recipe for the Chile Relleno Casserole, so I thought I'd post it here and make it easy. I've made it for years, and precise measurements are not important.

1 1/2 cups half & half
10 eggs
canned whole green chiles, drained and flattened out (2-3 small cans)
5-6 tbsp. flour
lots of Monterey Jack cheese, grated
lots of Cheddar cheese, grated
(mix the two cheeses together)

After greasing an 9 x 13 inch baking pan, place a deep layer of grated cheese (about an inch deep). Place green chilies over the cheese so that they form a green layer. Repeat these two layers of another inch of mixed cheese and then chilies. Beat eggs, add half & half, and flour. Pour on top of cheese/chile layers. Dribble a few spoonfuls of salsa across the top of the casserole. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. It will be golden brown and puffy. I don't use salt or any other seasonings, although some recipes suggest adding baking powder and salt. Enough cheese takes care of it.
The other recipe most requested was this one for Hot Curried Fruit, also extremely easy!
  • 2 pounds mixed dried fruit, such as apricots, apples, cherries, cranberries, figs, peaches mangoes, and raisins (coarsely chopped, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or Madeira (may substitute chicken broth for a nonalcoholic version)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and some garam masala if you have it.
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth or water)


Combine the fruit and sherry or Madeira in a large bowl; cover and let sit overnight (to macerate). Most of the liquid should be absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, curry powder and cumin; cook for a few minutes, stirring to combine. Add the chopped fruit and toss to coat evenly, then add the broth and mix well. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes or so to prevent burning. The fruit should be evenly coated and glazed.

Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.