Thursday, April 29, 2010

The last few weeks have been ART, ART, ART….but, right now I am in the mood for FOOD!

Years ago we used to go to Minnesota in the summer. My in-laws rented a fishing cabin on a lake for 6 weeks, and we would join them for a week. One of the perks of spending that time with my mother-in-law was walleye pike. She and Charlie would sit in the boat until lunchtime, and then return to the cabin with a boat load of crappie and walleye. While they were fishing, we would go in to town and buy fresh rye bread from a wonderful Swedish bakery. I will never forget the aromas in that bakery!

Anyway…lunchtime meant freshly caught and perfectly fried fish, sliced tomatoes and Swedish rye bread! I’ve been thinking about that fish a lot. Maybe it is the warm weather, maybe the talk about summer vacations, possibly the planning of the garden at the vineyard….whatever it is, I miss fried walleye!

Here is a recipe for a sandwich that I call Minnesota Dreamin’. Sure, you can skip the sauce and use mayo or tartar sauce, but you will be missing a great sauce!

Makes 2 servings.
2 4-oz pieces walleye pike
1 egg, beaten with
2 tablespoons buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
Creole seasoning
4 slices Swedish rye bread
2 dill pickle spears

1 hard-boiled egg
2 ounces anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1 teaspoon crushed capers
1/2 teaspoon chopped chervil
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Place the fish fillets in the egg and buttermilk mixture.

CAMBRIDGE SAUCE: In a small bowl combine egg, anchovy fillets, capers, chopped herbs, Dijon mustard, vinegar, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Stir and mash together thoroughly. Then gradually add the oil and incorporate completely. You should end up with a mayonnaise type consistency. Place vegetable oil in a deep saute pan to come no more than 1/3 up the side of the pan. Heat until a deep fat fry thermometer registers 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl combine the flour and cornmeal, and season with the Creole seasoning. Coat the fish fillets with the flour mixture. Carefully drop the fish fillets into the saute pan and fry until golden, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the bread slices with a generous coating of the Cambridge Sauce. Remove the fish from the pan and drain on paper towels. Place each piece on a slice of bread and top with another slice. Garnish with the pickles.

The fresh herbs in this recipe make the sauce fresh and delicious. I have a great new friend, Brenda, who lives not far from the vineyard. She lives in a wonderful old Victorian surrounded by her garden. Today, Brenda shared some of her herbs with me. Chives, parsley, oregano, fennel, even chocolate mint. As I left Brenda’s, I mentioned I had a great desire to have a Kahlua and Cream with her Chocolate Mint. Trust me…it was magnificent, but I hope you know it is not my drink of choice with the walleye sandwich ! No, for the sandwich, I would choose a Somerset Ridge white, probably Oktoberfest!

Hope you find some walleye soon!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This past weekend found me at the Prairiebrooke Gallery twice. The first time was Friday evening for the opening of a show featuring the paintings of Maria Johnson. I’ve written about Maria before. On January 30th of this year I wrote about the foods of her native Colombia, South America. Her name has appeared several times in my blog, in conjunction with the Somerset Ridge Painters and her participation in Somerset Ridge Vineyard’s Art in the Vines.

Maria’s current work, her El Dorado series, comes straight from her heart. It isn’t just the amazing history of her country, or the wonderful colors of the Caribbean coast, that make these paintings seem alive and vibrant; but rather, it is the spiritual approach Maria has taken to apply that history, her story, to her canvases. During the evening Maria spoke with great passion, sharing the history of the beautiful tribes of the Andes. 
"The El Dorado collection is a series of paintings that are inspired by my readings and studies of Latin American history and art history.

These pieces are inspired by the indigenous tribes of the Andes in the area of Colombia. Some are tribes from prehistoric times that still survive to this day. I am fascinated by their elaborate artifacts in gold and other metals. As I learned about these cultures (many have completely disappeared) I learned about the legend of El Dorado.
El Dorado treasure is believed, by many countries of the Americas, to be buried there. I understand why, with the amount of works in gold,  people of modern times would believe in this large treasure.
I am inpired by the indigenous tribes such as the Sinu, Tayronas, Muiscas, Calimas and more because of their talents to create such beautiful pieces of art. They used them for their spiritual believes and survival. I have met some of these people face to face...
They had their story and now I pass it on to you with my art..
Ok I just got emotional."

Her presence was a major part of the evening. Dressed in black, with incredible dark hair and eyes, and wearing one of the beautiful necklaces she has created, Maria carried herself throughout the evening with style and grace.

There were originally 11 pieces in the El Dorado collection. By Monday morning, only 4 remained! Maria has indeed strummed the heartstrings of Kansas City’s art collectors.

My second trip to Prairiebrooke Gallery was on Sunday. That afternoon, I was honored to be asked to assist Chef René Bollier of André’s Confiserie Suisse. Chef René, along with Jenny Vergara, of one of my favorite blogs, Making of a Foodie; Cindy and Dennis Reynolds of Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery; Kim Weinberger of Prairiebrooke Gallery worked together to bring Chocolate, Wine and Art to those fortunate people attending the event. There, surrounded by beautiful art, drinking delicious wine, Chef René presented his famous chocolates. As he presented each new chocolate, it was served with a perfectly paired wine.  My two favorites were his orange filled wafer thin chocolates paired with Dennis’ Ruby Red….SANGRIA! Next was the Somerset Ridge Tawny Port infused Chocolate Truffle, served with the Port! Need I say more? Well, I could mention the chocolate drizzled butter cookies, the milk chocolate covered almonds, the dark chocolate coated candied orange peel, the chocolate almond French macarons, the dark chocolate dessert cups filled with the chef's wonderful chocolate mousse....I could go on, but that would be too cruel!

As if working with René was not a big enough treat, I also got to sample his chocolates and drink wine while working! Not a bad job!
Chef Rene Bollier and I tried to move our wine glasses out of the photo. Didn't work!

To top it off, I watched two couples fall in love with 2 of Maria’s paintings and they bought them! What a weekend!

Monday, April 26, 2010

  The Somerset Ridge Painters

The Carriage House Art Fair

Saturday, May 1st

3 to 7pm

16 W 43rd Street

Kansas City, Mo

In the Carriage House

Next door to The Levee

Appetizers and Somerset Ridge Wine will be served

Participating Artists:

Audrey Benskin
Vicki Johnston
Winnie Davis
JoAnne Carlton
Kay Tucker

Gangivecchio, Sicily
a painting by
Kay Tucker

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Have you ever eaten a Parisian macaron? I had never had the pleasure until I was in Colmar, France back in 2002. There, in a beautiful little magasin de patisserie with sparkling glass display cases, rich dark wood paneling and shining brass railings,  we were seated at a little table with a crisp white tablecloth. Our coffee and tea were served in delicate teacups so thin you could see light shining through. Soft French music was playing in the background.

One by one, we gazed at the perfect French pastries in the cases. We made our choices and they were delivered to our table. It was at that moment I tasted my first macaron. It was one of those moments I will never forget, I had tasted heaven!

Although predominately a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici’s Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II.

In the 1830s macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today was called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron" and is the creation of Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, composed of two almond meringue disks filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling.

If you aren’t up to making your own, try Natasha's Mulberry & Mott in Leawood’s Mission Farms.

I hope you try making them, it is far more economical!

I order my almond flour from King Arthur Flour at

Here is my favorite recipe.

1/2 cup (3 to 4 large) egg whites, at room temperature
Food coloring (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blanched almond meal or flour (5.3 ounces)
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar (5.3 ounces)
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, before transfering to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)
Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.


You can flavor the macaron mixture before baking. My favorite is to add 1 tablespoon fresh raspberry puree, strained, in place of the vanilla, plus 3 to 4 drops dusty- rose gel-paste food coloring.

For chocolate, substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the almond flour. Use chocolate ganache for the filling.

I must tell you using a pastry bag and tube to form the macarons takes a little practice. You do not want them shaped as a rosette, but rather, as fairly flat disks, all the same size. Practice makes perfect and it is so gratifying when you accomplish an entire baking sheet of perfectly formed and uniform macarons!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This last weekend was a big one at Somerset Ridge Vineyard. The new wine, Buffalo White, was released. The weather was outstanding and the hillside was covered with people enjoying the wine, box lunches, live jazz and warm sunshine. The tables on the veranda were occupied by relaxed souls with smiling faces.

The vineyard is looking green and healthy after the long snowy winter we had. I was there for a few hours yesterday, sort of "helping" Kyle plant new trees and shrubs around the winery. Six new clumps of river birch trees are now planted, hopefully where they will help absorb much of the water that trickles down the hillside toward the winery. River birch trees have root systems very much like a sponge, they love to have their “feet” wet! Kyle also planted some new evergreens. We have lost so many of the beautiful old pines due to the Pine Wilt, a rather generic sounding name for the disease that has hit the Midwest very hard. If you are wondering why your pines have turned brown, go to

We did indeed have “bud break” about 2 weeks ago, and already the leaves are growing, the vines are looking more alive and vibrant every day. When you visit the vineyard, make sure you take time to meander down the hillside. I find watching the growth progress throughout the spring and early summer is fascinating. I actually have a favorite vine, one of the original vines planted in April, 1998. I’ve watched it grow into a gnarly looking old vine, even though it will live for years to come. Each year it gives us more grapes, higher quality grapes. I love that vine!

On Mother’s Day weekend, May 8th and 9th, we will be celebrating Mom, but also the annual
Miami County Farm Tour. This is maybe our 6th year as far as I can figure, of being part of the tour. It is always successful with families enjoying all of the different farms. Agriculture is going strong in Miami County. To find out more about the farm tour, go to
In the meantime, mark your calendars for Saturday, June 12th. Somerset Ridge will be hosting 30 Kansas City area artists at the annual Art in the Vines. It is a wonderful day in the beautiful vineyard with fine art work hanging among the vines! Don’t miss it! I’ve seen some of the art work that will be there; you are in for a treat!

Another treat for you....have you noticed how inexpensive avocados are right now? Great bargain. Here is a recipe for you, Grilled Avocados. Cinco de Mayo is coming!
4 servings 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 large ripe avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled (about 1 lb. total)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bottled picante sauce
1 ounce Monterey Jack or farmer cheese, shredded or crumbled (1/4 cup)
Snipped fresh cilantro
Salad greens (optional)
Bottled picante sauce (optional)
Dairy sour cream (optional)


1. Stir together olive oil and lime juice. Brush avocados all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle cut sides of avocados with salt.
2. For a charcoal grill, grill avocado halves, cut side down, on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 5 minutes or until browned. Turn avocado halves, cut side up. Fill centers of avocado halves with the 1/4 cup picante sauce and shredded cheese. Cover grill and grill about 5 minutes more or until cheese begins to melt. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place avocado halves on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)
3. Remove avocados from grill. Sprinkle tops of avocado halves with snipped cilantro. If desired, serve on a bed of salad greens with additional picante sauce and sour cream. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

 After a long boring winter, spring has me up and moving! I'm spending lots of time at the vineyard. I've been planting flowers, preparing for planting a large organic vegetable garden, and providing food when we have an event. We are making box lunches on weekends, and this last Saturday and Sunday, we had the veranda full of people enjoying the wine, the food and the beautiful weather!
This weekend is going to be special...Dennis has developed a new wine and we are releasing it on Saturday. It is Buffalo White, the perfect white wine for summertime!  Come out and join in the fun, we will be there!

If you come out Saturday afternoon, plan on going to Paola afterwards.  The 7 Somerset Ridge Painters will be participating in the Art Crawl from 5 to 9pm. We will be exhibiting our work at Molly's Table. It is a fun evening with Somerset Ridge wines and Molly's food....the art work is pretty special, too!

Now, here is a funny story....

It seems I have a dear friend or family member who feels I need to read a magazine called Women’s Health. I have received 3 issues in the last week and a half. I can guarantee you, I would not order this magazine for myself…. I am on the ugly side of 60; I have never thought of exercise as something I should try.

I remember back in 1988 or 89, my daughter was teaching a 6am aerobic class for the City of Overland Park. Cindy said to me “come on Mom, it will make you feel wonderful!” Then she followed up with “Just think, by 7am, the worst part of your day will be over!” I think I whined, pouted, possibly even begged for me to be “excused”, but there was simply no way Cindy would accept that. Next thing I knew, I was in sweats, headed to the Community Center for an Aerobics class. Good Grief, how do I get myself into these things?

Upon arrival, Cindy, in her cute little multi-colored spandex outfit and her little headset with microphone, told me (I was wearing a not-so-little and definitely not cute, baggy navy blue sweats) to take my borrowed workout pad to the back row. My immediate thought was “Thank God, no one will see me suffering!”

The music (not Glen Miller or Frank Sinatra) began making the gym walls throb with the beat. The 20 or so "fellow classmates" began following Cindy in their morning workout. They obviously had been there before.

I tried to hide behind a big guy so Cindy wouldn’t see me slacking off, but he kept moving back and forth, sideways, and I couldn’t move fast enough. I tried several of the “moves”, doing my best to keep up with the beat and the class. Oh my God, I couldn’t breathe! I kept looking at the big clock on the wall and what seemed like an hour and a half was in fact only 5 minutes. I considered throwing something at the clock, but it was covered with one of those wire cages. Finally, over the microphone, sent through the speakers, I heard my darling daughter say, “You’d better stop, Mom, lie down…and breathe!” Everyone in the class turned around and stared at me...I considered crying, but it passed. I coughed, gagged, sputtered...actually made quite a scene. Just as I was beginning to feel the spinning room slow down, there was that voice again...."Okay Mom, break is over!" I seem to remember saying something un-lady-like as I slowly pulled my painful body to a partially upright position. Only 45 minutes to go!

Sure enough, Cindy was right. By 7:00am, the worst part of my day was over, but for the next week, every muscle in my body screamed for mercy.

So, whoever sent me the magazine, I won't be taking up "spinning" or yoga, or any of the other forms of torture they suggest, but, Thank you, the recipes are great! In fact, one of my favorites from the latest issue is for Easy Affogato. I am a big fan of Kahlua!

Per serving:

½ tablespoon Kahlua

2 tablespoons hot espresso (or strong coffee)

½ cup frozen vanilla yogurt

Scoop frozen yogurt into a serving dish. Stir Kahlua into the espresso, then pour over the frozen yogurt. Serve immediately.
What a nice way to end the evening! Think I'll head into the kitchen......

Friday, April 9, 2010

   I am so proud!  Cindy and Dennis Reynolds chose one of my paintings for the next new label on  Somerset Ridge Vineyard wine. I have used this same painting as the top photograph on my blog for the last 6 or 7 months. Now, I am so excited to have  Vincent's Sunflowers on the 2009 Chardonel!
Please join us at the vineyard on Saturday, April 17th for the release of their new Chardonel and Somerset Ridge Buffalo White, two wines that will be perfect for the warmer weather that has finally decided to come to the midwest. It should be a fun day, so come on out and help me celebrate. The winery is open from 11am to 5pm.
Go to for directions and a place to sign up for the newsletter that will keep you informed about all of the activities coming up. See you there!                                            
   Artist Series
Chardonel Released!

"The pear trees are in full bloom and we have beautiful Spring weather in the vineyard. What a perfect time to release our first Artist Series wine.

We are proud to unveil our 2009 Chardonel, with the original painting Vincent's Sunflowers gracing the label. This beautiful work of art was painted by our very own resident artist and chef Kay Tucker.

With such a beautiful label, we had to make sure the wine was something special. We think our 2009 Chardonel is the best we have ever produced. The long, cool growing season in 2009 resulted in white wines of great flavor and complexity.

Our Chardonel starts out with lots of rich tropical fruit flavors and ends with a great citrus & green apple finish. It's like a cross between an unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Just the thing for a warm Spring/Summer day!"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I am "in to" works of art and food….no doubt about it. When I find a food that IS a work of art…..I am ecstatic! My grandmother Ann Robnett Johnston, made an angel food cake with 7 minute frosting that qualified as a work of art. Her cakes were a good 10” high, then she made them even higher with 2 to 3” of frosting. Absolutely beautiful. My grandmother Minnie Florence Ogg created her masterpieces with lard and flour….Biscuits! My Mom and Dad, Tom and Virginia Johnston, would spend days preparing their big Fall Football extravaganza for after the University of Missouri’s Homecoming Game. Every year, the table was covered with works of art! I remember my Dad always gave Mom a huge bright yellow mum corsage with a big MU made out of black pipe cleaners stuck right in the middle of it. And he loved to make those little frilly "socks" out of white tissue paper for the feet on the big roast turkey! What in the world did they call those darn things? Anyway, they did work hard planning a perfect party, preparing the food and arranging the table. Then they had fun!
So, I guess you might say, it is in my blood.

I am a firm believer that food must thrill the eyes before it ever crosses your lips!

I agonized for years, trying to give brides their perfect wedding cake. I spent 3 days making my own wedding cake! It was a brown sugar orange cake with real sunflowers on top. It was pretty, but not worth all the effort. If I could go back and redo that cake, I would make it Pavlova and would have completed it in one day. Another thing is for sure....Arch would have loved it!

Picture a 3 or 4 tiered stand, each tier displaying a perfect, fluffy white meringue shell filled with sweetened whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruit. I’m telling you, it beats the heck out of wedding cake! So, it might not cut as precisely as cake; it might not look as neat on the plate, but I guarantee you this…. the plates returned to the kitchen would be licked clean!

My first experience with Pavlova was probably 30 to 35 years ago. I read about the dessert from New Zealand, created in honor of the ballerina, Anna Pavlova’s visit to that country. A Russian ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th century, she is widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history. Pavlova is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan and with her own company, would become the first ballerina to tour ballet around the world. It was during that tour a chef or baker in New Zealsnd created the Pavlova masterpiece.
Now, I should tell you a few things that I have discovered about making a Pavlova.

1. Being a meringue, do not make this during a monsoon! Meringue will become a sticky, gummy mess in heavy humidity.

2. The exterior of your Pavlova should be crunchy and crisp while the interior remains soft, creamy, very marshmallow like. That is produced by folding a little vinegar and cornstarch into stiffly beaten egg white mixture.

You do not want to brown the meringue as you do in Lemon Meringue Pie. Rather, you want it a beautiful creamy color. To achieve this, your oven is set extremely low, drying the surface rather than “baking” it.

3. For the sugar, use super-fine, also called castor sugar, so that it dissolves completely into the egg whites.

4. The egg whites must be handled carefully. The old standby rule of absolutely no fat or grease on the bowl or mixer beaters is very important here. First of all, separate the egg whites from the yolks while the eggs are very cold. This makes separating much easier and there is a much less chance of breaking a yolk. Once separated, bring the egg whites to room temperature before beating. Cover and refrigerate the egg yolks for another use. I use them for my Mom’s Boiled Custard!

5. I have never tried to save a meringue Pavlova shell for more than overnight. I simply leave it in the oven, turned off, of course.

Okay, those are my observations, now, are you ready? This recipe is from The Joy Of Baking.


Meringue Shell:

4 large egg whites

1 cup superfine (castor) sugar

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch


1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fresh fruit – kiwi (definitely the traditional choice), strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in.

Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)

The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.

Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound it softly into the center of the meringue. Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.

However, I remember one time I had a small piece leftover….it was wonderful for breakfast! Not beautiful anymore, but heavenly!

Serves 6 to 8.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker