Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I love a night out with the girls....such a great opportunity for a "girl's movie",  great food eaten to live music by 3 cute  guys with great voices,  conversations about art, painting, painters, paint (all things painting!) Last Wednesday night we had just that....6 of us, all Somerset Ridge Painters. We met at Trezo Mare in Leawood, sat  outside on the Patio, listened to some great music, ate Fish Tacos, Mussels, Crab Cakes and drank some mighty fine beverages. And the chef came out to meet me and made me some  very special treats!
We laughed, we covered many subjects from painting, Art in the Vines, to the cute guys in the band!

But next came the best part.....the movie..... Midnight in Paris.

Now, I know it is not a major contender for an Academy Award, but it was so much fun!  I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I am not going to write a review of it, but the general idea is, Gil, Owen Wilson's character, moves through Paris, after midnight,  going back in time to the 20s....meeting such notables as Hemmingway,  Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds.....and an array of famous painters. The personalities of these people were so clear, and from what I've read of  them, right on. It was such fun! It was so easy to put yourself right there with them. And, as Gil walked around Paris in the rain, I had to agree with him..."Paris is the most beautiful in the rain."
So, here I have been on a "Paris High" for the last few days. In my searching the internet, I have found a book that I must have....today. Barnes and Noble is holding it for me, I will pick it up tonight! It is by John Baxter....The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris [Paperback]. I'll let you know how it is.
I must read more Hemmingway....more Fitzgerald....I must study more Picasso, more Matisse! Oh, and I mustn't forget Cole Porter's music! What a era!
If you want to know more about this Woody Allen movie, go to  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/movies/midnight-in-paris-a-historical-view.html
I hope you have a chance to see the film....it is so much fun!

Okay, so now we need something French to eat, right? How about a Bacon Tart? Great for brunch, lunch, light supper and as an appetizer. I found it on www.frenchfood.about.com This bacon tart recipe is for the classic Alsatian specialty, flammekuche, or tarte flamme. Rolling the dough cracker-crisp thin and baking it in a super hot oven is the key to attaining the crunchy texture and caramelized onion topping that makes this tart famous.

French Bacon Tart    
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Using a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, and salt until it has a coarse, sandy texture with a few pea-size bits of butter remaining. Stir the cold water into the flour mixture just until the dough pulls together into a shaggy ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 hours, or until it is cold.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Roll the dough into an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle on a lightly greased baking sheet. Stir the ricotta cheese, creme fraiche, flour, and salt until it is smooth. In a separate bowl, toss the sliced onions in the oil and sugar.
Spread the cheese mixture over the surface of the dough, and then arrange the onions and bacon over the cheese. Bake the bacon tart for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the onions caramelize.
This bacon tart recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
And, of course, a Reisling wine, such as Somerset Ridge's version of the famous Alsatian wine, would be perfect!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Food Changed Your Life?

I just finished reading my July 2011 issue of Sunset magazine. In the Q &A section, the above question, "What food changed your life?" was asked of 8 people who are, in one way or another, in the food industry. The one I found the most fascinating was the response of Joe Coulombe, the founder of Trader Joe's, the famous grocery store that he started in Pasadena, CA.
When Joe met his future wife, Alice in 1951, her father, Bill Steere, was a professor at Stanford on a professor's salary. It was Bill who introduced Joe to Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton, where you could get gallon jugs of Chardonnay for $1.00. Joe said he had always been a beer drinker, so drinking jug wine with his in-laws was a culinary awakening. At the same time, his mother-in-law introduced Joe to olive oil.That is how Joe began to learn about food and wine.
Just think what that awakening has done! We will  have 2 big new Trader Joe's here in Greater Kansas City within a month. They open on July 15th and I am so anxious to wander through the aisles. I've tried so many of Joe's  products in the past. I've been receiving Joe's newsletter for several years now and the anticipation of my first time shopping in a Trader Joe's is building. Am I disappointed that Kansas law forbids Joe to sell wine in the store on the Kansas side of the state line? Not really, I have my connections at a local winery!
Oh....back to the question...What Food Changed Your Life? Have you ever had one of those food moments? One bite and you know your life just changed? If so, I'd love to hear about it. If you look at the bottom of this posting, you will see the word comments. Click on it and a box for you to leave a comment in will pop up. Tell me about your culinary awakening....I look forward to reading each and every one of them!
As for my moment....I still think watching my dear sweet grandmother, Ann Robnett Johnston, making a cherry pie was my moment. I was 4 or 5 years old. Seeing how putting a few ingredients together can bring such pleasure to those lucky people that get to eat it, set my course through life. But what bite of food changed my life? It was most definitely my other grandmother's, Minnie Florence Ogg, homemade biscuits.
How could I be anything other than a chef? Both grandmother's taught me to love cooking! But you already know all of this.....they pop into my blog frequently.

So, Sunset was not the only magazine I read today. The July Bon Appetit also arrived in my mailbox. This recipe really caught my eye! Needless to say, I have not made it yet, but I will. Hope you check it out.

Grilled Lobster Paella
6 servings
Recipe and photograph by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
July 2011
•1/2 cup olive oil
•3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/2"-thick rounds
•6 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 finely chopped leeks, white and light-green parts only
•1 tablespoon smoked paprika
•2 1/2 cups short-grain rice
•1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
•7 cups hot seafood or chicken stock
•Kosher salt
•3 1-1 1/4-pound lobsters, halved lengthwise, claws cracked
•2 cups fresh shelled peas or frozen peas, thawed
•1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
•3 lemons, halved
16"-18" paella pan....worth the money if you love paella!


•Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Let burn down to red-hot coals; rake to edge of grill. (For backup, start a second round of coals in a charcoal chimney on pavement nearby.) Put paella pan on grill grate; heat olive oil. Add chorizo and green garlic or leeks; cook until golden, 3-4 minutes.

•Add smoked paprika and rice; cook, stirring often, until rice is coated, 2 minutes. Add saffron threads to hot stock. Add stock to pan and season to taste with kosher salt; stir to distribute ingredients. Let cook, undisturbed, until stock simmers and rice begins to absorb liquid, about 10 minutes. Rotate pan every 2-3 minutes to cook evenly.

•Arrange lobster halves over the rice. Continue cooking, rotating the pan often, as the rice swells and absorbs the stock. Add more coals from charcoal chimney to maintain even heat under the pan. Cook until the rice is almost tender and the lobster is cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

•Scatter peas on top. (If the liquid evaporates before the rice is tender, add more hot stock.) Cook without stirring, allowing rice to absorb all of the liquid, so that a crust (the socarrat) develops on the bottom and the edges begin to dry out and get crusty, 5-10 minutes, for a total cooking time of about 40 minutes.

•Remove pan from grill. Cover with large clean kitchen towels and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemons, making sure to scrape some of the socarrat from the bottom of the pan onto each plate.

Don't forget to leave me a comment on your culinary awakening!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Barbecue Time!

Photo: Todd Coleman
from Saveur's Blog
Kansas City is the Barbecue Capitol of the World! Oh sure, you Texans will argue with me, so will all of those Memphis BBQ fans. North Carolina will  have a thing or two to say.....but, never fear, Kansas City will come out on top every time.
 Here in Greater Kansas City, on both sides of the state line, you will find numerous barbecue restaurants. Some are nice, attractive, dare I say "lovely" dine-in places?  Others are of the "shack" style, sort of rough and tumble,  smelling smokey and meaty. Just a whiff of the smoke as you pull into the parking lot lets you know you are in for a treat! The smoky aroma is unbelievable!
I was delighted to see an article on Saveur Magazine's blog about one of Kansas City's famous smokin' families, the Fiorellas. Check it out by going to   http://www.saveur.com/article/Travels/Ribs-and-Ritual-Kansas-City. There is also a list of the top 14 barbecue sauces from across America....Kansas City has several in that list!

                                                       Fly Old Glory Today!

Today is Flag Day here in America; a day designed to celebrate Old Glory, our American Flag. Along Main Street USA, in all the cities and towns across our country, the Flag will be displayed with pride and honor. Our National Cemeteries will be resplendent in Red, White and Blue.
"The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.' ~Woodrow Wilson

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Perfect Day for A Perfect Art in the Vines!

What a wonderful day we had! Art in the Vines 2011 was perfect....perfect weather, perfect wine, perfect food, perfect crowds.....but most of all....perfect art and artists!  My friends and fellow painters did an amazing job of hanging their paintings in the vines. Their areas were colorful and inviting. They invited the guest to stop and talk about art, painting, the weather and wine.

Painters Davis, Gross, Goering and Garney  (sounds like a law firm!)
enjoying each other's company before the opening.

Painter Vicki Johnston who shared her space with
her granddaughter, Ana Welch, one of our two junior painters

Kristin Goering talking to some visitors about her beautiful
sunflower paintings
I took a few photographs before the parking lot began to fill up, while I had a few moments to walk around. The best thing about Art in the Vines?  The happiness! Everyone seems to be having such a good time. Happiness is on everyone's face! 
If you didn't make it this year, you missed a great day!
If you did make it, THANK YOU!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The sky will have fluffy white clouds floating about!
The thermometer will read a delightful 78 degrees!
The breeze will be gently dancing among the grape leaves!
And there, in the middle of
Somerset Ridge Vineyard
you will find 25 painters showing their work....
 Cindy and Dennis Reynolds of Somerset
and their entire crew will be making sure
you have a great afternoon!

The wine will be fabulous!
The food will be available and delicious!
and the art?
Join us, tomorrow 11AM to 5PM
for directions and further information.
See you there!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life, Fresh Peach Ice Cream and Strawberry Shortcake!

We have gone from months of cold, miserable rain to hotter than hell with horrendous humidity! Oh, that's right, this is Kansas! I will say one thing I have enjoyed about our battle of weather fronts....amazing skies! But no matter how amazing they are, I am praying for next weekend's sky to be bright blue, with a few puffy white clouds. Art in the Vines is this Saturday! Please let it be nice! Please, let us have gentle, lovely weather! I am watching the Weather Channel hourly, but still don't know if I should pack up sunscreen and a hat, or water wings and a kayak!

I am preparing to go back into my landscape mode when I face my easel and a stark white canvas a week from now. Art in the Vines will be over, and I have no pressures on me to do anything for a while; all I have to do is paint! My, that sounds wonderful! Of course, I have to bake my fresh rosemary shortbread for the winery and the Tasteful Olive,  but that is it. I am ready for some down time, brand new white canvases, and a palette full of my favorite colors. I think an occasional day trip to take photographs would be fun and very useful. Flint Hills, here I come. Maybe a drive down to the Lake of the Ozarks.

There are a few recipes I've been wanting to try also. I am really into using my ice cream freezer. I saw a table at the market mounded with beautiful peaches and I immediately started remembering the fresh peach ice cream when I was a child. Strawberry Shortcake is wonderful, but Fresh Peach Ice Cream will get me every time! Here are recipes for both, just in case you are a Strawberry Shortcake person......

Fresh Peach Ice Cream
1 cup sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1 large fresh peach, pitted, skinned and pureed
1/2 cup peach soda, preferably Nehi
pinch salt


Put sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the whole milk, and eggs into a medium saucepan and whisk until well combined. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and set aside to let cool.
Once mixture has cooled, add puréed peach, peach soda, remaining whole milk, and a pinch of salt and stir well to combine.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer ice cream to a sealable freezer-safe container and freeze.

Strawberry Shortcake
Okay, there has been a battle going on for years concerning what the cake part should be....biscuits, angel food cake, pound cake, or those horrible little packaged cake cups. Being from one of the South's most northern cities, Columbia, Missouri, I grew up knowing only biscuits! I am still a believer...southern biscuit shortcakes are a must!


6 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 tbsp. sugar

2 cups Martha White® Self-Rising Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup half-and-half

HEAT oven to 475°F. Coat large cookie sheet lightly with no-stick cooking spray. Combine strawberries and 1/3 cup sugar in medium bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

COMBINE flour and 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl. Mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half. Stir with fork until mixture is moistened. If necessary, stir in additional half-and-half a tablespoon at a time until moist.
KNEAD dough on lightly floured surface just until smooth. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured 3-inch round cutter or knife into 9 shortcakes. Place about 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
 BAKE 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown. Split shortcakes; fill with strawberries and top with whipped cream.
 TIP....Shortcakes can be served warm or at room temperature
(photographs are courtesy of Southern Living)Speaking of recipes, do you have a stack of recipes from magazines, newspaper, scraps of paper, etc?  Doesn't everyone? About 10 years ago, I downloaded a MasterCook software that has allowed me to store thousands of them. Then,  after all of the work typing in all of those recipes, I wondered what the chances are of my computer crashing. I could easily lose all of them, PLUS all of my genealogy data and photographs by the hundreds! Years of work! I called my computer tech, Andrew, and he recommended Mozy. So, for $149 per year, I am now backed up, off site. If anything does crash, either laptop or desktop, I can call up and it will be there.  Whew! If you are looking for a backup system, google MozyHome Online Backup.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How is your Palate?

At the vineyard this past weekend, someone asked me what food I’d pair with our very lemony Citron. I had to be honest….I love it with a very plain-jane type cookie, a sugar cookie without much sugar. That cookie softens the citrus blast slightly, and doesn’t throw in any additional strong flavors to the mix. Actually, my shortbread with fresh herbs is an amazing match for Citron. This also leads me to tell you that a chocolate shortbread goes so very well with our Tawny Port. Desserts can be so simple, yet hit your palate with a bang, or end the meal with a mellow caress. The choice is yours!

While we are on the subject of desserts and shortbread, I am about to introduce my
            Somerset Ridge Fresh Rosemary Shortbread
for sale at the vineyard. In the Tasting Room, we have been offering a sample of the shortbread to our visitors for over a month now, and it seems most people want to buy it! So, it will be for sale in the Tasting Room by Art in the Vines, June 11th. We are waiting on packaging, and then we are in business! I have a wonderful commercial kitchen for the baking, thanks to my dear friend, Donna Nagle.

So, here is your plan for June 11th….Art in the Vines, wine, shortbread and paintings!

I want you to meet all of the painters….there are 26 of us. Each one of us has their own style, their own way of seeing things. Chat with them, they would be delighted to tell you why they do what they do!

The Painters of Art in the Vines, 2011 are…..

The 9 Somerset Ridge Painters:
Ada Koch, Audrey Benskin, JoAnne Carlton,
Kristin Goering, Maria Johnson, Patsy Brown,
Vicki Johnston, Winnie Davis, and me

Our list of wonderful, All Local Guest Artists : Becky Pashia, Samantha Buller, Marcia Streepy, Anne Garney, Anita Toby, Claudia True, Nancy Beaver, Rosemary Begley, David Gross, Claud Davis, Peter Brunke, Melanie Nolker, Mimi Taylor, Emily Uhlmann, Jenny Meyer McCall and our 2 junior painters, Ana Welch and Sarah Koster.

Count them! 26! I hope you noticed, we have some pretty big names in that list!

We are so excited to have this opportunity to hang our paintings in the vines! It is such a beautiful place and the paintings add so much fun to the day!

There will be food for sale also, so come and spend some time with us. Stroll through the vines with someone you adore, sharing a bottle of wine! It is going to be an amazing day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It is summertime! That great old game of baseball is in full swing....but for Bing, my youngest grandchild, age 6,   baseball is just beginning. This proud "Mimi" thinks he looks pretty special there behind homeplate in his catcher's gear. Let's hope it is the best gear available...highly protective! He has moved way beyond the time when Mimi could kiss his boo-boos and make it feel better! Damn, they sure grow up too fast!

Have you ever heard of StumbleUpon.com ? It is a service that lets you sign up for web pages and blogs that feature the things you like most. I registered for Art, Art History, Architecture, Food and Wine.  This  service chooses new sites for me to check out, and I have found some interesting things by following their lead. They send it out once a week, but you can always go to the sitr and request  something anytime. Today I received an interesting food site, Divine Caroline, that was featuring cooking corn on the cob. I have not tried this recipe, but it sounds like it could work! I have always added sugar to my pot of water when cooking corn, but milk and butter with brown sugar instead of granulated? I am anxious to give it a try.  Here is the recipe.

Milk Boiled Corn on the Cob                               6–8 ears corn, husks and silk removed
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1. Fill a large stock pot half full with water (use a large enough pot to hold all the corn). Add in the milk, sugar and butter.
2. Bring to a boil, then add in the corn cobs. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow corn to cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until just tender, depending on size of corn try not to over cook the corn as it will become tough.
3. Using long tongs remove and place on a plate or in a bowl, then cover with foil until ready to serve. Serve with butter and salt to taste
Via http://www.divinecaroline.com/33615/81970-only-corn-cob-make#ixzz1NqxrW1ZL

If you want to look around the web yourself, searching for something that might interest you, go for it. But I am  a little too cautious for that, I will let stumpleupon do it for me.

Check this one out!

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