Saturday, April 30, 2011

I read up to a dozen cooking blogs everyday. Sometimes I come across a posting that makes my mouth water, my eyes tear up, my feet start for the kitchen! It happened today.
It was posted on Tasty Kitchen Blog. The name of the recipe is French Coconut Pie. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? Three words 1) French…an excellent word in the kitchen and on your plate…French food is wonderful! 2) Coconut….visions of cookies, bonbons, pies and cakes just pop into your mind! 3) Pie…who in the world doesn’t like pie? Need I say more? check out the blog for this and other recipes!
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not trying to get you to leave my blog. However, I do think you will want to check out this recipe. The photo of the single slice of French Coconut Pie on the beautiful little plate will change your plans…you will want to head to the kitchen to bake that pie!
The Tasty Kitchen Blog gives you step by step instructions, complete with excellent photographs.

Photography in the kitchen is important when you write a cooking blog. That old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" is so true. And it apparently is a quote from Napoleon Boneparte! When I first looked at the photo of the French Coconut Pie, I had not read the recipe. What I saw in that photo is what made me want to try it. The pie was beautifully arranged on a lovely little plate that complimented the slice of pie. The camera caught the glistening goodness. It captured the sparkle. When you look at that photo, you just know that that first bite of sparkle is going to be lusciously sweet and buttery rich, just what you want a bite of dessert to be! To me, that pie is sexy and romantic….feed a piece of this pie to someone special and you are going to get kissed!

I've been working on my pieces for the 3rd Friday in Downtown Overland Park. I will be showing some of my newest pieces at the Olive Branch Art Gallery. For more information, address, schedule, etc, go to the web page. I would love to see you there!

Lago di Como,  Private Collection
I am also working on Art in the Vines at the vineyard. Somerset Ridge is always beautiful, but you should see it all decked out for the "Vines"show! I am torn as to whether I should include Ponte Vecchio in my exhibit. I love that painting, so proud of it, just because I learned so much while painting it. It is one of my all time favorites, right up there with Lago di Como, which I sold at the 1st Art in the Vines in 2009. Lago loves its new home and adores its new owners....but I do miss it! That is why I am thinking long and hard about Ponte Vecchio.  It is so easy to say "oh, I'll paint another one for myself", but trust me, I have attempted Lago several times and I just can't repeat the original! So, for now, Ponte Vecchio is above my fireplace, and it seems quite happy there. Hmmmmm, what to do....?  Maybe I need to paint!

Ponte Vecchio

Come to Art in the Vines,  Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery,  Saturday,June 11th!

Friday, April 29, 2011

It is almost May! We're having warmer weather but parts of our beautiful country have been devastated by tornados and floods.
The future King of England weds his new bride, surrounded by thousands of wild hats!
Football is on.
Casey is off.
The war rages on……

But here in my world, there aren’t so many Highs and Lows….there is just life. I’m developing recipes for Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery (there will be a cookbook someday!). I am also working with The Tasteful Olive on their recipes.

Geisha Chasing Butterflies
On May 20, I will have some of my mixed media collages in The Olive Branch Gallery for the Third Friday celebration in Historic Downtown Overland Park.
In just 6 short weeks, Art in the Vines will take place and I am gathering my work for that annual event at the vineyard. Mark your calendars now! June 11th...opening at 11AM!

Last night, I attended the Border Challenge for Autism 3, held at the Boulevard Brewery here in Kansas City. The painting, “A Puzzle Without Borders”, by The Somerset Ridge Painters, was a big item in the event’s silent auction. The painting will make its new home in the  Mason House, a facility for students with special needs, in Overland Park.
As one of the painters of "A Puzzle Without Borders"I can truthfully say we are thrilled it will be hanging there!


William's Cousins

 The Wedding
I set the DVR to record the Royal Wedding, starting at 3 AM today. When Princess Diana married Charles, the idiot, I actually set the alarm to watch the event live. Today, I woke at 7 AM, fixed a cup of tea and got back into bed to watch the elaborate occasion. I was amazed at the hats! Good Grief! Where do they come from? Some were lovely….many were ridiculous! Look at Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, the groom’s royal cousins! What were they thinking!

 Prince William and the beautiful Kate made all of those British subjects very proud….at last, they have normal acting, attractive looking royalty to look up to! I don’t know if I will still be around when William becomes King, but I imagine he will be a fine Monarch. After all, he is the great great great great grandson of Queen Victoria!
I am not a huge fan of British foods, but must say, the quality of today’s chefs from England is such that their food is changing my opinion. We all know they call cookies “biscuits” and I love them, whatever they are called, but it was while I was watching that British movie, “Calendar Girls”, that I realized I had never made a sponge cake. (I love the way the British say “sponge”!) So, I did a little research and came up with a recipe. This Victoria Sponge was the favorite sponge cake of Queen Victoria, and has since become a tried-and-true recipe for tea-time sponge cakes. Victoria Sponges are generally filled with jam, and are undecorated on the top, but you can serve each piece with a dollop of whipped cream, or shake some powdered sugar over the top if you'd like.
Victoria Sponge
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cup regular flour
½ tsp salt,
1 ½ tsp baking powder
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
4 to 5 tablespoons strawberry jam
½ pint strawberries
½ cup heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
 Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and sugar, add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each. Fold in the rest of the flour and cornstarch and when it's all incorporated, add a little milk as you need.

- Pour and scrape the batter into two 8-inch round cake pans that have been buttered and lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to come away from the edges, are springy to the touch on top and a cake tester comes away clean. Leave the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 min before turning out. Cool completely.

- When you're ready to eat the cake, put one layer on a plate, right-way up, spread with jam and scatter fruit on top. Whip the cream till it's thickened but still soft and spread over the “jammy fruit” (how British sounding is that!). Place the other layer on top and sprinkle with several tablespoons of sugar.
I could learn to enjoy Tea Time in England!

Needless to say, William and Kate’s cake was a little more elaborate than Victoria’s Sponge.

Follow this link to Saveur’s history if Royal Wedding Cakes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

 The Border Challenge for Autism 3
will take place on from 5-9 pm on Thursday, April 28th
at Boulevard Brewing Co.
The fundraiser benefits the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri
and the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART).

“A Puzzle Without Borders” by the Somerset Ridge Painters
will be auctioned off during the Border Challenge event.
The Somerset RidgePainters are
Ada Koch
Audrey Benskin
JoAnne Carlton
Kay Tucker
Kristin Goering
Maria Johnson
Vicki Johnston
Winnie Davis

To see other work by The Somerset Ridge Painters,please come to Art in the Vines on
June 11th, Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. For directions and more information, please go to

I think this event calls for a kid friendly recipe....

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 medium apple, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup shredded)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons apple juice or milk

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs, scraping sides occasionally, until blended.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in oats and apple. Onto cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
In medium bowl, beat powdered sugar and apple juice until smooth, using wire whisk or fork. Drizzle over cooled cookies on cooling rack. Let stand about 1 hour or until glaze is set.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today is National Pretzel Day!

The biggest pretzels I have ever seen were in my friend, Inge Richter's home town in Germany. Located in the beautiful Black Forest area, Bahlingen is a lovely little town with beautiful hand painted buildings and vineyards everywhere! It was wonderful! But let me tell you about the pretzels...huge! These pathetic pretzels we see in malls and at ball parks here in the US are poor imitations.
So, it is simple, if you want a real pretzel, you are going to have to bake your own or head to Germany.
It is definitely cheaper to preheat your oven!
Big Chewey Pretzels
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups room-temperature water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons non-diastatic malt powder or sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Mix the sugar, water and yeast; stir to dissolve. (If you're using instant yeast, skip this step, simply combining all of the ingredients at once.) Add the white wheat flour, malt, salt, and enough unbleached flour to make a soft (but not sticky) dough. Knead well, place in a bowl, and let rise till doubled.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a log, and shape the logs into pretzels. In a large pot, boil together 6 cups of water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Put 4 pretzels at a time into the boiling water, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer boiled pretzels to a lightly greased baking sheet.
When all the pretzels have been cooked, paint them with an egg glaze (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water) and sprinkle with salt or seeds (if desired), then bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pretzels are well-browned. Yield: 16 soft, chewy pretzels.

Note: if you are wondering what white whole-wheat flour is:
Called "The new miracle flour" by First for Women: "Bakers rejoice! Now you can make all your favorite recipes with white whole-wheat flour. Recently introduced by King Arthur Flour, 100% Organic White Whole Wheat tastes milder than traditional whole-wheat flour but incorporates the three key components of whole grains: bran (packed with fiber), endosperm (full of protein) and germ (rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber)."

Happy Pretzel Day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Somerset Ridge Painters are ready!

back row..Ada, Koch, Winnie Davis,Audrey Benskin,Maria Johnson,JoAnne Carlton
                                                                   Front row...Kay Tucker and Vicki Johnston
 The Somerset Ridge Painters are definitely ready for the Vineyard's Art in the Vines!
We have been participating in the 3 Ps......painting, partying,and posing for a photograph! Aren't we a fun bunch of gals? It may look like I am sucking my thumb, but actually, we were smoking cigars!
Our dear Kristin Goering was not present...but she will be there for Art in the Vines!

How about one of our favorite recipes? In the autumn of 2009,we held a mini Art in the Vines.There were 8 of us and we had so much fun! I made a loaf  of Fig Bread to celebrate the day. It has always been a favorite of mine!
So perfect with a glass of Somerset Ridge wine! Hope you enjoy it.
Vineyard Fig Bread

1 egg
1/2 c. brown sugar
 1 c. buttermilk
 1 c. sifted enriched flour
 1 tsp. baking soda
 1/2 tsp. salt
 1 c. rolled oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
 1 c. chopped dried figs
 1/2 c. chopped nuts
 2 tbsp. chopped candied orange peel
 1/4 c. melted butter
Beat egg until light; add sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add buttermilk. Sift together flour, soda and salt; add to egg mixture, stirring lightly until combined. Fold in rolled oats, figs, nuts and orange peel. Lightly stir in melted butter. Bake in greased paper lined bread pan (1 pound size,  I order from King Arthur Flour) in moderate oven (350 degrees) 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool. Frost top with a thin confectioners' sugar frosting (make by combining 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoon orange juice). Let frosting drip down onto sides.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why I blog....

Hopefully our weather here in the heartland is going to calm down, dry out and warm up! I am so looking forward to farmer's markets and grilling out. They say Thursday and Friday are going to be nice and sunny. So, clean up the grill and give this recipe from Sunset Magazine and a try!
It is quick and easy.  All you do is marinate albacore tuna in honey and Dijon and quickly sear it on the grill. Serve with mixed baby greens, thinly sliced sweet onion, oranges, sliced avocado, and a fresh lime dressing.
I actually used the Tasteful Olive's Persian Lime Olive Oil....Perfect!

Grilled Tuna Citrus Salad 
serves 4 
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tuna steaks, about 6 oz. each
About 1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 ounces mixed baby greens (3 qts. lightly packed)
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut in half-moons
2 large avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced

1. Prepare a grill for medium heat (350° to 450°). In a small bowl, combine honey and mustard. Rub tuna with mixture and let marinate at room temperature, 10 minutes.
2. Use an oil-soaked paper towel to wipe grill grates. Cook tuna just until grill marks appear, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, leaving tuna rare inside. Cut each steak across the grain into 1/4-in.-thick slices.
3. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup olive oil, the vinegar, and lime juice. In a medium bowl, combine greens, onion, salt, pepper, oranges, avocados, and 2/3 of vinaigrette; toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 plates and arrange tuna slices on top. Serve with remaining vinaigrette on the side.

I have been getting more questions about my blog.....

There are several questions I receive frequently from readers of my blog. For instance,  "How many hours do you spend writing your blog? (It varies, but usually 2 to 3 hours.) Another is " Do you ever sleep? You usually post your new entries in the middle of the night!"  (Yes, I sleep, but not anywhere near 8 hours. More like 4, which is 2 hours longer than it used to be.)
Anyway, these questions, and many others like them, made me realize my readers are very much like me. You see, I read many blogs and I have questions about those writers. Who are they, how long have they been cooking? But most of all, "Why do you write your blog?"
I suppose the #1 reason I write about food and cooking is to promote home cooking and cooking from scratch. As a child, I was used to all of the moms being home preparing wonderful wholesome meals with fresh vegetables, slowly braised  meats,  leisurely dinner times with everyone present at the table.  As a mom myself, I realized my children's schedules became more demanding each year. I was still there cooking, but finding those leisurely times around the dinner table was becoming more difficult. That is when the microwave oven made it's into the American kitchen. Dinner plates could be prepared then heated when each family member appeared for dinner. Between football practice,cheerleading,school play rehersals, diving team practice, etc. our dinners together were not as many as when they were younger. Now, as a grandmother, I see families that almost never see the dining room in their homes,but have lots of favorite restaurants they go to for dinner. Moms work outside of the home at very demanding jobs. They can barely find time to eat dinner, much less shop for fresh ingredients and then cook it!
For these reasons,I write the food and cooking sections of my blog  to make preparing delicious food easier.
As a firm supporter of the Slow Food organization, I want to celebrate and support home cooks, bring like-minded people together with recipes and menu ideas using good wholesome locally grown foods.
 (Now, why I write about painting, I'm not sure. Maybe it is an attempt to learn something about painting and about myself. Now that I think about may not be working out for me.)

I might share a few statistics with you. Yes, there are companies that keep track of "hits" on blogs. I find it pretty interesting. For instance,  I have had over 12,000 hits on my blog in the last 2 years, with the heaviest number of readers being on a blog about Southern Beaten Biscuits and Boone County Country Ham. I posted that blog on May 26, 2009. It also happens to be the blog I have had the most comments on and I know I have had more personal email about that blog than any other posting. Anytime someone googles Beaten Biscuit and Boone County Ham, up pops a link to my blog! Today it is the 4th link listed. Cool.

Many of my readers know me from way back,  high school friends, family, and neighbors. Many readers have met me through the vineyard. As chef of Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, I have had the opportunity to cook for hundreds of people during our Harvest Season Lunches. Sitting around the long tables out in the yard below the vines, talking about pairing food and wines, sharing recipes, getting to know our "pickers" is so rewarding.  There is no doubt about it, our pickers love wine and food!
I think the following quote is perfect...It says exactly what I feel.
"No matter who we are or from which culture we come, every society gives careful thought to the daily preparation of meals for family, friends or even strangers. Food means love. This is true whether we are the cook or the one who eats." EzineArticles

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I think my problem is caused by the pound cake I made know the one with a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of  flour and a pound of eggs? Yep, that one.  I ate a  piece last night and then I woke up this morning and there it was waiting for me. A little nibble here, a little nibble there....whoops, I ate it all!
Luckily there wasn't a whole cake to begin with; most of it had been eaten last night by my guests, the Somerset Ridge Painters and their spouses. But even 2 inches of a pound cake can kill you.....but what a way to go, eh?
So now I seek something savory! I have had all the sugar I can stand.

What I am dreaming about is a French recipe that I find absolutely delicious.

                     Roquefort and Caramelized Onion Tart

1 layer pastry dough
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fit the pastry into a deep-dish pie pan. Line the pastry with parchment paper, fill it with dry beans, and then bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the beans.
In a large skillet set over low heat, melt the butter and cook the onions in it for 20 minutes, until they're tender. Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle the sugar across the onions. Sauté the onions and sugar until the mixture turns golden brown.
Layer the caramelized onions and crumbled Roquefort cheese onto the bottom layer of the pastry. Beat together the eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and cheese. Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are set in the middle. Cool slightly and serve.
This Roquefort and caramelized onion tart makes 8 servings.

Yes, this is another quiche....and a very good one. This classic Roquefort and caramelized onion tart recipe is layered with complex flavors: salty, piquant cheese, mellow, sweet onions, and rich eggs and cream. Baked into a flaky pastry shell, the combination is nothing less than irresistible. Originally from the caves of Mont Combalou, tangy Roquefort cheese is protected by the first ever A.O.C., or controlled term of origin. If you can't find true Roquefort in your market, ask your grocer for a good quality blue cheese.

Okay, so it is pretty high in calories and fat, and after the pound cake, what I really should have is a glass of tomato juice....let's see....Roquefort and Caramelized Onion Tart or tomato juice? Gosh, decisions, decisions!
 There is another caramelized onion tart that is pretty darned good also. Only this one uses red onions.

These simple yet impressive tarts are a perfect hors d’oeuvre for your Spring and Easter buffet and they pair beautifully with a green salad as a light lunch or vegetarian dinner.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large red onions, finely sliced
1/3 cup fig or plum jam
1 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups mixed mushrooms (criminis, shitakes and enoki, etc.)
1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine two tablespoons of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions caramelize and turn golden.
Add the plum jam to the onions and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. Mix the crumbled Stilton into the onions.
In a separate sauté pan, heat the remaining olive oil and butter over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until all of the moisture has evaporated from the pan and the mushrooms begin to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper and remove the mushrooms from the heat.
Cut 4 circles from each puff pastry sheet using a large biscuit or cookie cutter. Place the pastry discs on a silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and prick each circle with a fork in a few places. Spread two tablespoons of the mushroom mixture onto the bottom of each disc, leaving about 1/2-inch rim of the pastry uncovered.
Spread equal amounts of the onion mixture over the mushrooms. Bake the tarts about 15 minutes, till the uncovered pastry rim has risen to form a pastry cup, the pastry is golden brown and the Stilton is bubbling.
Makes 8 Mini Tarts

Okay, I'm going to go have my tomato juice now.....damn!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I am in a pickle! I don't want to start an oil painting....I seem to want to continue with my little watercolor collages. I know I need to face a large stark white canvas and show it who is boss...but actually, I am not feeling very boss-ish right now. I'm much happier doing my little collages.  I have Art in the Vines coming up in June, June 11th to be exact, and I think I will combine some of my collages with the oils I have done during the last 10 months. I hope my section in the vines will look okay.... I've decided to include Ponte Vecchio, a painting I did for myself, for my own home about 10 months ago. I love the painting, (maybe that sounds like I am bragging, but the painting truly makes me happy!) but I think I can do another painting for me.  I am also going to include my large floral and a few of my acrylic abstracts. It should be colorful!

This year's Art in the Vines is by invitation only and is strictly "painters only" this year. Last year I bit off more than I could chew....didn't do myself any favor, and then the weather wiped us out! So, I am being cautious this year. The painters we have lined up are exceptional! The show should be mark your calendars now....Saturday, June 11th....11am to 5 pm! Please come and visit with me! Come have a glass of Somerset Ridge Wine with me!
I will post directions to Somerset Ridge as we get closer to the time for Vines.....but actually, why not now? You could come down and have some wine with me any weekend! So, take Highway 69 south out of Overland Park. Go approximately 17 miles to the Louisburg/Highway 68 exit. At top  of the ramp, turn right (west) and go approximately 4 miles, just past the Louisburg Cider Mill to Somerset Road. (There are signs to direct you to the vineyard) Turn left (south) onto Somerset and continue south, going straight at the Y in the road. Before you cross the creek, the road turns into gravel. Continue south to the vineyard, turn left into parking lot. Simple! Come see us. Remember, May 7th and 8th is Miami CountFarm Tour....always lots of fun!

While I haven't been painting, I have been cooking. My kitchen has been getting a workout!  I am so anxious for the Farmer's markets to open....Just think about it....ripe red tomatoes, crisp golden corn on the cob, bright green fresh herbs, melons so fragrant you can find them with your nose!  Organic farm fresh eggs are now abundantly available! Crack one of those beauties open and you find big beautiful golden yolks. I used a few in fresh pasta; it turned out golden in color! Gorgeous! My deviled eggs looked magnificent.

Speaking of deviled eggs,  several people at the vineyard asked me for my recipe for my eggs. I had to laugh....recipe? I don't believe so.  You put the eggs in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, place lid on the pot and set the timer for 11 minutes exactly. While they are "cooking", fix a big bowl of ice water, lots of ice cubes...When the timer goes off, drain the pan of eggs and put eggs in the ice water. When eggs are cool,  either refrigerate or proceed with recipe for deviled eggs.
Peel the eggs, rinse with cold water, place aside to air dry.  Cut each egg in half and remove the yolks, placing them in the bowl of the food processor. Set the whites to the side for now.
Pulse the egg yolks for a few seconds, just to break them up.  Depending on how many eggs you are deviling, add just enough real mayonnaise to make a thick filling. Slowly add additional mayo, pulsing as you add, until filling is creamy and smooth. Add a squirt of either yellow or Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.
Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large star tube, with the filling and pipe filling into egg white halves. Sprinkle tops of eggs with paprika, Spanish smoked paprika, cracked blacked pepper,  a tiny spoon of caviar, a few capers, etc.  For some special occasions I have topped with anchovies or tiny shrimp.
Deviled Eggs are a favorite of so many people. The deviled egg plate is usually the first empty serving piece... it never fails!
Just think, in a little over 9 weeks, we will be dining on deviled eggs, those bright red ripe sliced tomatoes and steaming ears of the golden corn on the cob dripping with butter! And the melons! I've missed all of them so much.
So, watch for your Farmer's Market to  open soon....visit it weekly! Fresh, locally grown produce is so much better than that in the grocery store. Remember....Eat and Drink Locally!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Old Friends, Gelato and Potato Salad

I've had a great day....I hosted a luncheon here at my house for 5 of my dear friends from high school! Yep, even women as old as we are can still get together and have fun! I met Susan when we were freshmen at Wyandotte High School, then as sophmores, Nancy, Joyce, Carmen and MaryAnn joined us.
I've blogged before about the wonderful times we had at Wyandotte in the late 1950s....what a perfect time to be teenagers. We received an excellent education, and had very little pressure put on us by the world. Some had part time jobs, most of us didn't. Some had cars, I did not, but it really didn't matter. I walked to school (or at least as far as Nancy's and then her mom, in her robe, would drive us the last 5 or 6 blocks.)
Wyandotte High School had a center hall way that opened up into a beautiful room with columns and fireplaces that we referred to as "Social Hall". There, every morning, we would meet our friends, flirt with the boys, make plans for the weekend.  It was indeed a simple life....calm, encouraging and most of all, full of moments that are memories today.
That was the reason for the luncheon. We had not been together since a year ago January, when we gathered together to attend the funeral of our dear friend Susan Marie Callendar. We vowed to not let so much time slip away before we met again.....but you know how life is today. It is no longer simple, never calm.
Susan's death overwhelmed me with the knowledge that at any time, any where, we could lose someone dear to us. So, today we spent 3 hours sitting around the table,  enjoying each other. We had photos of children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters. The talk of our offspring replaced the talk about our male classmates. Time sure does change things!

Tomorrow night I will be giving out samples of my Olive Oil Gelatos at The Tasteful Olive in Historic Downtown Overland Park, Kansas.  I will be "sampling" Blood Orange, Persian Lime and that tongue tingling Harissa Pecan! Come on in and give it a try.  I will be there from 5 to 9pm. There will be live music and of course, a store full of Jeanne Mackay's delicious Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars.

Saturday will bring me a few hours to work in the studio! I wonder if I will paint? Afterwards it is off to the vineyard for the Bud Break weekend. What a great way to celebrate spring!

I blogged about the weekend just a few days ago, and gave a sandwich and potato salad recipes. Since then, I have been thinking alot about potato is such a summer thing! The next day after I posted that blog, I received an email from my friend, Karen Rodriguez, sending me a video on how to peel potatoes for potato salad. Check it out, amazing. I tried it, and it works! It is a  YouTube video, showing Dawn Wells  Peeling Potato (Mary Ann ie: Gilligan's Island) Click below....

Okay, so now you know how to peel a about a few recipes for that summertime necessity.

The first recipe is for a Traditional American Potato Salad
6 to 8 servings
4 pounds Idaho potatoes
4 jumbo eggs, hard boiled
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
4 green onions, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large pot, add potatoes and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender. Drain and cool. Peel cooked potatoes (don't forget to try our new trick!) and cut into small chunks. Put in a very large serving bowl or container. Peel and finely chop hard boiled eggs and add to bowl. Add mayonnaise, green onions, celery, mustard, white pepper and salt. Mix until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.

Now, for a German version of potato salad....Black Forest Potato Salad

1 1/3 pounds potatoes (4 medium),
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup diced tart red apples
1 pound light polish sausage, sliced 1/3-inch thick
10 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and thoroughly drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt to taste

1. In 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook potatoes, covered, in 2 inches boiling water until tender,
about 15 minutes. Don't forget to score it before you drop it in the boiling water!
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, water and pepper. Mix in apples.
3. In large nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss and brown sausage 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.
4. Slice the cooked and magically peeled potatoes into 1/3" slices. Add potatoes, sauerkraut, onions, parsley and sausage to apple mixture; toss gently. Season with salt.

Here is a great potato salad by Ina Garten. Loaded with flavor, but you don't have to peel the potatoes...
Ina's Potato Salad
6 to 8 servings
3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion


Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

I think the thing I like about this potato salad is, it tastes like one of my favorite foods....Deviled Eggs!
My favorite Potato Salad.......
Deviled Egg Potato Salad 
8 hard-cooked eggs
3 tbsp. vinegar
3 tbsp. prepared mustard
1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 c. dairy sour cream
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. salt
6 med. potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed (4 to 4 1/2 c.)
2 tbsp. chopped onion

Cut eggs in half; remove yolks, mash and blend with vinegar and mustard. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, celery salt and salt; mix well. Chop egg whites, combine with potatoes and onion. Fold in egg yolk mixture; chill. Garnish with tomato wedges and cucumber slices. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Join us for a Bud Break Celebration at
Somerset Ridge this Weekend!

Bud Break in the Vineyard - Spring is Finally Here!

The Spring wine season is here! The buds are bursting out on our 8,000 grapevines over the next few days and we'd love for you to come for a visit.

We have a very special weekend planned with wine tasting (of course!), lots of great locally produced foods, hand-rolled cigars by our favorite master cigar roller, walks through the vineyard and some amazing live guitarists to entertain us all.

The tasting room will be open 11-5pm Saturday and noon-5pm Sunday. Grab a friend or two and come out for a visit. Wine tastings are always free and we've missed you after the long winter!
Winery Hours: 11-5 Wednesday-Saturday; 12-5 Sunday.

Upcoming Events:

April 29--Wine & Tapas evening at Hereford House in Independence! This will be a great event. All you can eat tapas paired with local wines from Somerset Ridge & Amigoni Vineyards. 7-10 pm. Call 816-795-9200 to reserve your spot! $30/person.

May 7-8--Miami County Farm Tour Weekend

June 11--Art in the Vines!

Thank you for your continued support! We know you have many
choices for wine and we appreciate that you choose us!

Don't forget to ask for Somerset Ridge wine when you dine at Bonefish Grill, Blanc Burgers, Bluebird Bistro, TakeFive Coffee + Bar, Jasper's Ristorante, Hereford House in Independence, Melange Apron in Baldwin City and The Tavern in Louisburg.
We look forward to seeing you in the vineyard soon!

Dennis & Cindy Reynolds
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Picnic idea from Chef Kay:
The winery sells wonderful Hummus and Chips, all made by a local chef! This makes picnicing at the vineyard so simple!  Bring some cheese, bread, fresh fruit and you are set! Paired with a bottle of Somerset Ridge wine, a chilled white or a bold red, you are going to dine like a king!
See you there!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Painting and Cooking

The timing of two upcoming events had me hopping out of bed early in the morning to head for the grocery store. Believe it or not, I was making Harissa Olive Oil and Pecan Gelato with The Tasteful Olive's Harissa Olive Oil, for the Third Friday celebration in Historic Overland Park. So what does "Harissa Olive Oil" mean, what does it taste like?  This oil is a combination of sweet and hot peppers. The fruitiness of this oil gives a classic North African flavor. Use it to spice up grilled and roasted foods. Add to hummus for a little kick. Pair with Jalapeno Balsamic Vinegar for a spicy salad dressing. Or, in my case....make Spicy Gelato!

I was so anxious to try it, could not imagine what the pepper effect would be on the creamy frozen treat. I love it!  The initial taste is that of a creamy rich gelato, then, very gradually, way back on your tongue, a gentle fire begins to smolder. It is fun!

So, if you want to try it and are in the market for some wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars, come on by The Tasteful Olive. I will be giving samples of my Harissa Olive Oil Gelato, Blood Orange Olive Oil Gelato, and Persian Lime Olive Oil Gelato!  You will find live music, fun shops, great food, and of course, The Tasteful Olive.
7945 Santa Fe Drive
Overland Park, KS 66204
Phone: 913-649-7900

Once the gelato was in the freezer,  I joined my fellow Somerset Ridge Painters for an afternoon and evening of painting. Winnie Davis, one of the painters, and her entire family work long and hard to support the Autism Society and to promote Autism Awareness. Winnie thought one of the Somerset Ridge Painter's group paintings would be a fun way to earn some money for the Autiam Society. There is an  MU vs. KU fundraiser for the Universities' Autism Foundations to help build awareness and funds for two great organizations! Tickets are $35 and include appetizers and Boulevard beverages (and bragging rights). Event benefits: MU: Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders KU: Kansas Center for Autism Research & Training. City/State: Kansas City, MO. Thursday, April 28, 2011, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Boulevard Brewing Co. 2501 Southwest Blvd. Today, we painted our donation to the silent auction. I love the painting. It features children and togetherness along with a hint or two of the two universities, KU and MU. It is a fun painting! Let's hope it goes for BIG BUCKS! \

“A Puzzle with No Borders”
by The Somerset Ridge Painters
 Procedes from this years Border Challenge for Autism event are divided between two GREAT organizations fighting Autism! The School (KU or MU) wih the most supporters will get 60% of the procedes from this years event! Kansas University took home the crown in 2010 and was awarded a $6,000 check from the Project Change, Awaken KC team! Be a part of this event in 2011 and help your school fight Autism!
The Somerset Ridge Painters are Ada Koch, Audrey Benskin, JoAnne Carlton, Maria Johnson, Vicki Johnston, Winnie Davis and me, Kay Tucker. This is our 3rd painting donation to a charity auction.

Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery
Okay, back to cooking.  This weekend should be a good one, lots of outdoors events are scheduled. I will be spending the weekend at the vineyard, celebrating the release of our newest wine (Boy! Are you going to be surprised and pleased!) There will be live music on the veranda, hand rolled cigars by Corey Frisbee, an artist from Texas and her beautifully made wine barrel furniture, and on Saturday, the Somerset Ridge painters will be there having their photograph taken for future publicity! The winery Tasting Room will be well stocked with delicious wines and local foods to enjoy outside on the veranda or on the hillside! Please remember, picnic baskets from home are always welcome, and we can suggest the perfect wine to go with it!

How about a recipe for a picnic classic, but not dangerous on a hot day?
This is a recipe for French Potato Salad. No mayonnaise!

1 pound small white boiling potatoes
1 pound small red boiling potatoes
2 tablespoons Somerset Ridge Chardonnay
2 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons Tasteful Olive's Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons good olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Now, you need a sandwich! Simple is the way to go....such as
 an Italian Panino.

SERVES 1 (Per guest)
1 6" rectangular piece focaccia or ciabatta
2 thin slices speck, wonderful ham, available at Werner's Specialty Foods, Mission, Kansas
2 thin slices fontina...also available at Werner's            
1⁄2 cup arugula 2 tbsp. 18 year old balsamic vinegar from The Tasteful Olive, Overland Park, Kansas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Split focaccia in half and place speck, fontina, and arugula on bottom half. Drizzle with vinegar and season with salt and pepper, and cover with top half.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What a Glorious Saturday!

I was up at 6am to bake the tarts for a bridal shower luncheon to be held at the vineyard at noon. There was a breeze all day, the sun turned the ground warm and the veranda was perfect! I actually found several occasions to sneak out there and sit for 5 minutes! As I said….it was glorious!

It is so good to see all of the tables in the yard filled with happy people having fun. After the bridal shower, a group came in to celebrate a 40th birthday. Turns out it was my niece, Ashli’s, party When I headed out of the parking lot, there was still a lot of partying going on!

Next weekend at Somerset Ridge Vineyard is one you don’t want to miss! There are so many things going on….it is the time to celebrate Bud Break, the time when the vines come to life, leave their state of dormancy and buds erupt from the canes (vines). That is a true sign of spring!

Also on the schedule for next weekend is the release of a new wine. I actually haven’t gotten to taste it yet, but I can hardly wait! I’ve told you before, when Dennis Reynolds creates a new wine, you can be sure it will be perfect! I’ve seen the label, it is beautiful.

You don’t want to miss tasting this one! Not only do you get to taste his new wine, he will be giving walking tours through his vines, telling the story of how he and Cindy started Somerset Ridge.

Cory Frisbee, the master cigar roller, will be there, helping you choose the right tobacco leaves and then rolling your cigars for you. You can sit out on the veranda or out in the yard and enjoy your cigar and wine! You can't find too many places that offer a deal like that!

Getting the picture?....It is going to be a whopper! Please come out to see us, I will be there waiting for you, maybe with a sample of my Fresh Rosemary Shortbread!

Blood Orange Olive Oil Gelato!
Speaking of samples…

This coming Friday evening is what we have come to know as Third Friday. On the 3rd Friday of each month, Historic Downtown Overland Park has a big celebration along Santa Fe Drive and surrounding blocks. The shops stay open and there is music and food. I’ve been blogging about my favorite shops there. As a matter of fact, I will be at The Tasteful Olive giving samples of my Tasteful Olive Blood Orange Gelato! It is delicious and you need to come by and try it. I will be there at 7945 Santa Fe Drive from 5 to 9pm. Drop on by to taste my gelato, meet Jeanne Mackay, the owner. Go home with the best olive oil in town!

My week will be rather busy getting ready for Friday and the weekend at the vineyard, but first….on Thursday I am having 5 high school friends for lunch here at my house. This is something I’ve been trying to do for over a year… last, it is going to happen! So, dear friends, Joyce, Nancy, Carmen, Susan and hopefully MaryAnn, I am looking forward to sitting around the table for hours….laughing, remembering, eating and maybe even having a glass or two of wine with you! There just isn’t anything like old friends!

Friday, April 8, 2011

I’m strong to da finish cuz I eats me spinach……

Photo by
Picture this….1947….Columbia, Missouri….Grant School.Cafeteria A lovely young 1st grader (okay, maybe not lovely in her glasses and braids, but sort of cute…) was standing in line, tray in hand. The unsmiling cooks, and I use the term loosely, were standing behind the steam table, dishing up the “torture du jour” that they referred to as “lunch”. The little girl hesitantly raises her tray to receive her plate….Oh God! There it is….a hotdog (gray and wrinkled, pulled from a huge vat of his gray and wrinkled brothers), no bun or catsup, no mustard or relish. (sigh….)
Moving down the line, a pot of evil looking brownish red stuff waited for her to lift her tray once again…..
”NO thank you!”
“Young Lady, hold your tray up NOW!”
“But I don’t like stewed tomatoes”
A large spoonful of overcooked tomatoes was “slopped” onto her plate, the juices running over to the gray hotdog, swirling around her plate as she moved forward again.
Her least favorite food in the entire world loomed ahead….NO, NOT AGAIN!
SPINACH! She didn’t care what Popeye said, Spinach was horrible! GAG!
Plop….now, gray hot dog and brownish red tomatoes swam in a pool of olive drab spinach juice….
One last addition to her tray…a slice of pasty white bread, carelessly tossed into the swirling liquids.
Yuck! Could she possibly survive through the lunch? Would they poison her here in the cafeteria? Would she ever see her parents again?

Yes, I did survive….but I have never forgotten the menu, the appearance, the taste of those school lunches. It is a strong possibility that those lunches influenced me in my career choice. A good chef would never NEVER serve such food! No chef would ever EVER let food look like those lunches!
Spinach was such a dreaded veggie when I was a little girl. It came in a can, all brownish green and drab. Today, both fresh and frozen spinach are available 12 months of the year. And there are thousands of ways to prepare it.

Here are some of my favorite recipes using spinach, fresh or frozen.
First, my very favorite recipe using spinach. This is a Northern Italian recipe, from around Lake Como where my ancestors are from.

Estes Italian Savory Pie
2 cups flour
5 ounces cold butter, cut in pieces
1 pinch salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup cold Somerset Ridge Chardonnay (up to ½ cup)
1 large egg, beaten
1 large jar roasted red bell peppers, cut into wedges
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
½ pound thinly sliced ham
½ pound sliced salami
½ pound sliced provolone cheese

For the crust: Place the flour into the food processor with the 5 ounces of cold butter and a pinch of salt. Pulse the machine repeatedly to cut in the butter. Add 1 egg, pulse to lightly blend. Add cold wine. Barely blend.
On a floured surface, work the dough with your hands to pull it together into a block. Do Not Knead!
Chill for at least 1 hour. Butter a 9” springform pan.
When dough is chilled, roll out half of it into a round large enough to cover bottom of pan and up the sides of the prepared pan. Leave an overhang of dough at top of pan. Brush entire surface of dough with beaten egg..
To assemble the pie: Drain the red peppers. In a bowl, toss the chopped and well drained spinach with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/3 cup of cream and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
In the following order, line the bottom of the pie with 1/3 of the sliced ham, 1/3 of the spinach mixture, 1/3 of the salami, 1/3 of the red peppers, 1/3 of the provolone.
Repeat layering in same order two more times.
Roll out the top crust. Moisten the overhang of the bottom crust before laying the top crust over the filling. Seal the crust by pinching the top and bottom crusts together, then carefully trim the excess of dough, not too closely to pan. If you wish to decorate the top of pie, use beaten egg to attach decorations cut from trimmings of dough. Brush entire top of crust with beaten egg, prick top of crust. Bake at 375 degrees until deep golden brown.
Allow to cool completely before serving. Slice into thin wedges as an appetizer, or thicker wedges for a light lunch entrée. Always serve at room temperature.

Two-Cheese and Spinach Twist
3 1/2 cups bread flour (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
4 teaspoons sugar
1 package Fleischmann's® Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, divided
1 cup finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh spinach leaves (patted dry and packed lightly)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, un-dissolved yeast and salt. Heat milk and water until very warm (120º to 130ºF); gradually stir into dry ingredients. Stir in 1 egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Knead Cheddar cheese into one half of dough; set aside. Knead spinach and Parmesan cheese into remaining half of dough. (Spinach dough may be slightly sticky and need additional flour.) Roll each to 15-inch rope. Arrange ropes side by side; twist together. Pinch ends to join. Place on greased large baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Lightly beat remaining egg; brush on top of dough. Bake at 375ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack. Leftover bread should be stored, wrapped airtight, in refrigerator or freezer.

Spinach and Cheese Strata
1 (10 ounce) loaf white bread, cubed
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 pound Cheddar cheese, diced
14 large California Fresh Eggs
1 1/2 pints lowfat milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard (optional)
3/4 pound shredded Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9" × 12" baking dish. Make a single layer of bread cubes in dish. Cover evenly with spinach and sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Make another layer of bread cubes. Whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over layers making sure that all of top layer of bread is moistened. (At this point dish can be refrigerated overnight Bake for 1 hour until puffed and lightly browned. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. 10 minutes before serving, sprinkle with jack cheese and return to oven to melt.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Pistachio Pasta Salad Florentine
6 ounces pasta, small tube shape
2 cups fresh spinach, torn
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Thaw peas quickly by placing in a sieve and rinsing with hot water. Drop pasta into boiling water, return to boil. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Toss pasta, spinach, tomatoes, peas, pistachios and dressing (see below) in large bowl.
Makes 4 servings; 2 cups salad each.
Dressing: Combine 2 tablespoons honey, 2-1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 egg white, 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (crumbled) and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Makes 1/2 cup.

Harvest Salad
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and torn into bite- size pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red raspberry jam (with seeds)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup walnut oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes, or until nuts begin to brown.

.In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, walnuts, cranberries, blue cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.

.In a small bowl, whisk together jam, vinegar, walnut oil, pepper, and salt. Pour over the salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Italian Meat and Spinach Pie
1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch pie crust
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound mild or hot turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
10 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup chopped, seeded plum tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained


Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry and press the edges of the crust with a fork to seal it to the pie dish. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the sauce.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the ground beef, turkey sausage, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Cook and stir until the meat is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent and the mushrooms have given off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato paste, water, salt, basil, and oregano and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Line the chilled pie crust with a double thickness of aluminum foil. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is set, about 7 more minutes (see Editor's Note for tips). Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine the spinach, ricotta, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Spoon the filling into the baked crust. Top with the meat mixture. Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent over-browning, place the pie on a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven. Top the meat mixture with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, chopped tomatoes, and sliced olives. Return it to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
1 lb. spinach
6 strips bacon, roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1⁄3 cup malt vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh savory

Wash and trim spinach; transfer to a bowl.

Cook bacon in a small pot over medium-high heat, stirring often, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate.

Add shallots to pot with bacon fat and cook until just softened, 1–2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue whisking until heated, about 30 seconds. Pour immediately over spinach and toss; sprinkle with crumbled bacon, 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh chives, and 2 tbsp. chopped fresh savory.

SERVES 4 – 6
Listen. Folks, I’ve got a million of them, but enough is enough!
…Eat Spinach!

Thanks, Popeye! Want more Popeye? click here!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Special guests at luncheon


Today was one of those days when everything went well. I started baking Alsatian Onion Tarts around 6:15am. They were due at the vineyard at 11:00. We had scheduled The Mission Valley Hunt Club for
a wine tasting and luncheon.

Sure enough, the 20 guests began arriving and what a parade we had! Pickup trucks and large SUVs pulled into the parking lot, complete with Horse Trailers! Loaded with Horses! It seems like our guests had been on a ride and were dropping by for lunch on the veranda. The Hunt Club members secured their trailers and opened the trailer windows and doors for air and so the horses could enjoy each other’s company! One pair, Windsor and Billie used to be stall mates and now grab every opportunity to catch up and spend some time together!

Lunch was served; Alsatian Onion Tarts, Baby Greens with Apples, Dried Cherries, and Pecans with a Maple Vinaigrette. For dessert? Somerset Ridge Pound Cake with Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries all drizzled with the vineyard’s Ambrosia Dessert Wine.

The Mission Valley Hunt Club and  Cindy Reynolds of Somerset Ridge
The veranda has the new screens now, there to block wind, rain and cooler temperatures. Of course they are clear so those enjoying the veranda can still see the beautiful view! Yep, Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery keeps getting better and better!

In the end, everyone had a great day. Just ask Windsor and Billie!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tomorrow I am going to "Let them eat cake!"

We have a luncheon scheduled on the veranda tomorrow. The weather is going to be beautiful, sunny and in the 70s. There are 18 lovely ladies coming down to the Somerset Ridge Vineyard’s veranda, to sip their wine and enjoy a luncheon of Alsatian Onion Tart, and a salad of Baby Greens, Apples, Dried Cherries and Pecans with a Maple Vinaigrette. For dessert I am baking our Somerset Ridge Pound Cake and serving it with Organic Strawberries that have been gently bathed in our Somerset Ridge Ambrosia Dessert Wine. (Did you notice I did not use the word “macerated” for the bathing of strawberries? No, the word macerate sounds like some act of violence! ….instead, I am going to bathe the berries, letting them linger in the cool refreshing liquid.)

Our pound cake is truly what it says it is….The name comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. In the days when many people couldn't read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes. The Pound Cake is a British creation that dates back to the early 1700s.

Somerset Ridge Pound Cake
1 pound butter (4 sticks)
1 pound sugar (2 cups)
9 large eggs
1 pound all-purpose flour (4 cups)
dash salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large lemon, juice only
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10" tube or bundt pan.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with electric mixer, then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until well creamed and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and salt, beating constantly. Add the extract and lemon juice and continue beating until well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently tapping bottom of pan to distribute batter evenly in pan.,
Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center, comes out clean. Wait 10 minutes before removing cake from pan, placing on serving plate.
For the berries, slice them, then pour the Ambrosia over them. The amounts are up to you, but you do want to have enough liquid to drizzle over the cake and berries. Add a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, maybe even a sprig of fresh mint! Wonderful!

If you are looking for a place to have a luncheon or a wine tasting with wonderful appetizers, call the vineyard! Sitting there on the veranda, watching the breeze ripple through the vines; stroll through the vineyard, see how the sun glistens on the is pure joy! And it all happens here in KANSAS! Who knew?! Dennis and Cindy Reynolds knew long before they planted the first of their 9000 vines back in 1998. Since that moment, they have become leaders among the Kansas grape growers and wine makers.

And remember....Budbreak is due within a week or so, depending on the weather and temperature. Come on out and catch the beginning of the whole process. I actually have a favorite vine, one we planted that April 1, 1998. This vine has such character, such a presence in the vineyard. I love to watch him change throughout the growing season. If I am at the vineyard when you come out, I will share my vine with you, then you can watch the magic of the vineyard, too.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yesterday my Mom said to me…..”Well, you are a Bohemian, aren’t you.”.

Bohemian! What in the world is she talking about?
I decided to look it up in the dictionary; maybe I didn’t understand the true meaning of the word. ……”a person, such as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.”

Yep, that is what I thought it meant. But me, living without regard for conventional rules and practices? Somehow, I just don’t think the shoe fits. But then again, maybe I need to take a long look in the mirror…………. Maybe I need to change some things about myself. Could I possibly be walking on a fine line, trying to not be either a “normal” person or a “bohemian”? Hmmmm, something to ponder. I'm thinking maybe my little 92 year old mother knows me better than I know myself. I will be studying this question at greater length....

.So, now for the great evening! First Fridays are so fun, particularly when you have one or more artist friends showing their art in the wonderful galleries. This month I had many artist friends exhibiting! David Gross and I had a full evening planned!
Ada Koch and her newest painting
My dear friend, Ada Koch, has only been in her new studio space for 2 weeks now, but the place looks fantastic. The real surprise was seeing her latest work! When I first met Ada, she was teaching classes at ARTichokes, in fact, she was teaching a class I was taking. Her paintings were generally on smaller canvases covered with delightful florals or landscapes, or, they were larger wonderful portraits. She had told me she was so anxious for me to see her new work. Ada and Kevin went to France last year, and just returned from Italy, so I thought she might move in that direction. Little did I know…
Beautiful, Ada!

Next David and I walked to The Outpost, and media production center that had turned their space over to some of the artists from the Paola area. Included in the show were 3 of David’s watercolors. They looked stunning! Peter Brunke had several of his paintings there also, always bright, colorful and fun. 
Kristin Goering and her Kansas Landscape Triptych
Our next destination was the Leedy-Voulkos Gallery a block away. My last blog included a photo of my dear friend Kristin Goering and her triptych painting. Let me tell you, the photo did not begin to show the painting! It is an amazing landscape showing the Kansas that Kristin knows so well and loves dearly. Having grown up in Western Kansas, Kristin mixes the magnificent colors of the golden wheat fields, the wide blue skies, the billowy white clouds. If some Kansas corporation doesn’t snap this one up, they are crazy!
l to, Winnie Davis, Audrey Benskin and Ada Koch
4 of the 7 Somerset Ridge Painters
We returned to Ada’s studio to meet up with more friends, the Somerset Ridge Painters. From there, we drove (thank God we didn’t have to walk! By this point Old David and Old Kay were a little weary!) to the River Market area to enjoy the paintings of another of our painters, Maria Johnson, known as Majo (or as I call her, Crazy Maria) My dear Colombian friend, who paints with the enthusiasm and colors of the Caribbean, was showing at 509 Delaware. As we gathered and enjoyed her work, we realized we had one more place to go, on foot. Thank goodness it was just across the street to Café Al Dente. This little Italian restaurant and bar has been open since 1991. Arch and I used to meet some dear friends there every first Wednesday for an evening of wine, beer, food, and fun. I was delighted to suggest it for our dinner last night. The Dwyers, owners, were very busy, but very accommodating. Jacqueline, who’s father was Italian and her mother was French, a powerful little dynamo who can cover 100 yards in a flash, managed to corral us at a table for 10 and we were served our beverages. Then we waited for the big moment…..
Majo! aka Maria Johnson

Our Maria was featured on a television program on channel 10, KSMO. This program features Spanish speaking people who have made a difference in our world. The Dwyers turned off the music, turned all of the televisions (4) to channel 10 and hooked the audio into the sound system. As we sat and waited, surrounding tables also waited, not leaving even though they were finished with their dinner! As the program came on, the entire room became still…even those at the bar! Before we knew it, there was beautiful Maria giving the interviewer a tour of her studio and explaining the importance of her home in her paintings. Cheers went up throughout Café Al Dente! Majo strikes again! The star of the evening!
It was a very good evening! My heartiest congratulations to all of the artists!

Maria had one disappointing moment last night. Café Al Dente ran out of Alfreddo Sauce right before we arrived! So, for Maria, here is my favorite recipe, no cream cheese in this one! This is truly authentic!

                                      This delicious pasta recipe is courtsey of Russell Bellanca from Alfredo of Rome.

Fettuccine Alfredo Serves 2 to 4

1 pound fettuccine
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt; return to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook until al dente according to package directions.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, cheese, and pepper until mixture becomes smooth, about 5 minutes.
3. Drain fettuccine, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Toss fettuccine with cheese mixture and reserved cooking water until completely incorporated. Serve immediately with additional cheese sprinkled on top, if desired.

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