Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

EGGS

I have always loved eggs, Eggs, tomatoes, and bagels for breakfast, fried egg sandwiches for lunch, egg salad, omelets, deviled eggs, crepes, etc.. I will eat them any way, but raw.

Eggs were always a quick meal to prepare.  One Father's Day, I went to visit my dad.  I conveniently arrived around lunch time.  I thought I would check to see if there was something to eat. There was always something interesting in the refrigerator at mom and dads.  Dad saw me searching and offered to make me an omelet.  It sounded great.  My dad doesn't just make any omelet, he makes great ones.  Without fail, whenever he would make my mom and omelet when we were young, he always put her initials on top with cheese. He never made an omelet with out them on top.  Anyway, I'm visiting with my mom and dad brings me a tray with my lunch: jam, butter, bagel, ketchup, sliced tomatoes, and a wonderful, fluffy, cheese omelet.  Guess what was on top? Yep, my initials in cheese.  I could never make an omelet as good as dad's, but I will share a way I like to have eggs.

1/2 pound Asparagus 
2 Eggs
fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (I always use unsalted)
fresh parsley
salt and pepper 
lemon juice if desired.


Preheat oven to 450F

Rinse and trim the asparagus, place in a roasting pan.  Toss gently with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast at 450 F for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the asparagus are cooked, preheat a frying pan over medium heat.  Add one tablespoon butter to pan.  When heated, gently fry the egg over easy.  Top the asparagus with the fried eggs, drizzle butter from pan on top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, garnish top of eggs with fresh Italian parsley.  ( I sprinkle a little lemon juice on top)

Serve with toasted Italian bread
Two servings

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Morning.....

 Saturday is a day for sleeping late.  The alarm does not go off at 5:15 which is quite nice for this night owl.  During the week, it's a quick cup of coffee to get my day started.  No time to sit and enjoy the aroma of this fine beverage, reading the morning paper, and savoring the taste. This is a luxury I save for the weekends.   I usually make a pot of coffee on Saturday, enjoying the scent of freshly ground coffee.  I like coffee many different ways depending on my mood; expresso with baklava, iced coffee in the summer, hazelnut flavored with teatime cookies, etc....  Most Saturdays,  I prefer a nice cafe au lait (half coffee and half milk).  I have a sweet tooth, so a few teaspoons of sugar too.  During the winter, I may enjoy a cup of steaming hot cocoa or hot tea.  I enjoy fresh bagels from our corner deli, or nice crispy croissants along with the drink.  Greek yogurt with fresh fruit is also a favorite summer treat with my coffee.  

1 cup thick non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1 Tablespoon honey
Dash of cinnamon
Sprinkle with slivered almonds

Nice cool summer treat for breakfast. It's healthy for you too!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why I don't like hot peppers!


I don't remember my age, but I know I was very young. In the neighborhood where I lived, many people grew a small garden, really just enough for a few tomato plants, cucumbers, etc... One neighbor grew peppers.... HOT, RED PEPPERS!! My family wasn't much into eating hot and spicy foods with the exception of Chinese food from time to time... and that wasn't that hot. To make a long story short, kids can be cruel sometimes. Some kids gave me a red pepper to try... right from the garden. Being that I ate everything anyway, I tried it. Oh my gosh, it was the hottest thing I had ever eaten. Home I ran, screaming in pain. Water, as we now know, just intensifies the heat. That didn't work. I remember eating bread to stop the heat. It eventually wore off after what seemed like an eternity, but the memory lingers on...

I'll eat a pickled jalapeno, but not many others. I do enjoy Mexican food, and spicy dishes though. This is a recipe that I made for salsa. A friend of my brothers had made a salsa that was out of this world, so I added my own touch. This one can be eaten as a salsa or a salad!!

1 can yellow corn.... drained
1 can black beans.... drained and rinsed
2 bell peppers.... yellow and red
2 tomatoes... or any kind
8 or so slices pickled jalapeno peppers (you can add more)
celery if you have it (few stalks)
I also like cucumber too (1 pickling cucumber)

(Secret Ingredient-Brad knows, but he won't tell :) Salsa still delicious without it.)

Juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
cayenne pepper (1 tsp) oregano (1 tsp)
chili powder (1 tablespoon), cumin (1 teaspoon full) (YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE)
1/2 bunch cilantro (wash, remove the leaves and chop )
It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but you can just "wing it" .
You can add hot sauce if you want.

My son, Brad likes the salsa. He likes his food really spicy and hot.. I'm sure he adds much more cayenne pepper and perhaps a habanero or two.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20th... my birthday!

I have had a sweet tooth since the day I was born!  Who doesn't enjoy a birthday cake?  Vanilla, Italian cream, German Chocolate, it doesn't really matter to me. I like all cakes, pies, cookies, etc... My mother was a terrific cook. Duck a l'orange, Greek Leg of Lamb, Stews, Soups, Salads, appetizers were all terrific.  The one thing she did not enjoy was baking. We rarely had flour in the house. Was it because she didn't like sweets? Flour made such a mess in the kitchen? Not sure. I think it's a combination of both really.  She finally started purchasing flour when I graduated from the Easy Bake Oven and advanced to "real" baking.  Of course, my parents would gladly visit the bakery for a birthday cake (In Atlanta, it was the Rich's bakery downtown...but more on that later).  

When I advanced to the "real" oven, I took an interest in making my own birthday cakes! I enjoyed making them, the family enjoyed eating them, and I always liked them.  I remember when I made my first yellow cake with cream cheese frosting.  I knew that I liked cream cheese, so I doubled the recipe!!  I remember to this day, that I tinted the frosting green. I guess because pale green is a lovely spring color.   Needless to say, I think others left quite a bit of frosting on their plates.  Not me, I enjoyed every bit...... didn't feel so great the next day, but that hasn't stopped me from eating cream cheese frosting.  It has stopped me from doubling the recipe though.

Mom had several cookbooks.  I would read them from cover to cover.  I still continue this pleasure with the hundreds of cookbooks I have collected over the years.  I especially liked her book of recipes from all over the world.  What a way to learn about other cultures.  My love for Paris developed the first time my family set foot in the wonderful "City of Light".  Of course, my birthday cake one year had to reflect the passion I felt for that city.  I was only 12 years old or so on my first visit, but the foods I remember fondly.  I made a "Paris Brest". It is supposedly named for the bicycle race between the cities of Paris and Brest.  The cake is made of a pastry called choux (similar to that of an eclair).   The pastry is shaped in a circular shape to represent the wheel.  It is cut in half and filled with a cream.  The cream can vary, but I know I used a custard cream.  Not difficult to make really, just takes time.  Other favorite birthday cakes:

The Black Forest cake is wonderful. Filled with kirsch soaked cherries, rich chocolate, and topped with whipping cream. What's not to love?  

Greek Baklava!!! It's not a cake, but it's MY birthday and I made it!  Just put a few candles in it and voila, a birthday treat.

There have been many others too.  I think the favorite cake of my children has to be the Krispy Kreme Donut Cake.  A platter of Krispy Kreme Donuts stacked like a pyramid with, of course, candles on top!

This year, my aunt had a yellow cake with fudge frosting. It was delicious.  Also on a platter were several Greek cookies, candy, and cake from a delicious Greek Bakery in the Atlanta area. What a treat!

My sons know that birthday cakes are not typical at our house.  As a matter of fact, not much is typical about birthdays.  My sons are 18 and almost 21, their cake may be an ice cream cake, cookie cake, two layer cake, donut cake, or a special cake yet to be revealed on my son's birthday May 4th.  You'll have to wait and see.   They know that even now, mom might have "Bob the Builder", "Scooby Do", "Speedracer", "Blues clues", etc.... for their plates.  I'm young at heart, so they never know what to expect.

One of my fondest birthdays was when my two sons made me brownies! It was a delicious birthday treat! YUM



Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Brothers

This is the last photo taken of my immediate family.  It was doing what we love.... cooking lamb at Easter.  In the photo from the left: Jimmy, my dad: Pete, Johnny, and myself.

I have to older brothers: Johnny and Jimmy.  As adults, many people call them John and Jim, but they will always be Johnny and Jimmy to me.

Johnny

When growing up, Johnny would take me everywhere with him.  I was his little shadow.  He loved his little sister very much.  He was ten years older than I.  I was about 10 when he married.  He also served in the Air Force and spent a year in Viet Nam.  I still have the letter he wrote me.  He played sports as a youth and adult.  His real sport love was football.  After being a teacher and coach of many sports for 30 or so years, his dream came true.  He was part of the defensive football coaching team at Grayson High School.  During his many years of coaching, he could be seen painting the gym floor, putting stripes on the field, or whatever else needed to be done.  He was always willing to help anyone that needed help.  I knew that if I asked him if they won the game, he would start by saying: "the ball was on the 14 yardline, it was third down, and so and so was going to throw......"  

Johnny also shared our family passion for cooking.  He could eat the hottest of peppers. I guess those years of living in Texas!!  He was proud of his garden; growing okra, squash, cucumbers, peppers, etc....   He was a great cook too.  I cannot eat Greek rice dressing without thinking of him.  

His time with us was cut too short on April 29, 2008.  It was a day I will never forget.  His passing was sudden and I wish I could have said many things to him.  He knew I loved and adored him!  


Jimmy

My brother, Jimmy, is 6 years older than I.  As a child, I spent just about every weekend watching Jimmy play football.  I was there as a toddler and watched him play through high school, college, Canadian league, and World league.  I used to go to the high school with my parents and other adults to help make the steak dinners for the team.   I can honestly say that I enjoy a good game of football.  Jimmy worked over 10 years with the Harleem Globetrotters. He's seen parts of the world that some of can only imagine.  I saw him at work a few times when he was working as a referee for the team.  Great fun.  He is now in the car business.  

Jimmy is a fantastic cook.  If it can be made on the grill, he can do it!  Watch out Bobby Flay for a "throwdown" with Jimmy! :)

My brothers mean the world to me.  I love them with all of my heart.  I could type for pages and pages about stories about them and our relationship.  

Mud pies and beyond


When I was little, we used to get little chicken pot pies every once in awhile for a treat.  I used to save the little pans.  I could make the best mud pies in them.  Mud pies with berries from the holly bushes were my first outdoor kitchen!  

Soon after, I received my first Easy Bake Oven.  The old green ones.  Yes, you can make a delicious cake using a 40 watt bulb!  I would cook up a storm with those little packets.  I still remember the day the cake rose too high and it wouldn't come out of the oven.  I guess that was my first of many baking disasters!  Dime size cookies and vanilla and chocolate cakes were to "die for"!!  My mom didn't really eat sweets and I knew that for a fact.  I also knew that my dad had a sweet tooth. I would bake my dad special cakes and cookies.  He was ALWAYS so kind to share his cake with me! He always remarked how delicious and wonderful they were.

After the Easy Bake Oven, I quickly advanced to the real oven.  Chef boy r dee pizzas were my next venture.  Not the usual cheese pizza mind you, but olives, onions, ground beef, etc... My brothers would gladly sample my cooking.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday


When I was a child, almost every Sunday was spent with family. Around 1 or 2 pm, family would gather either at our house or Aunt Tassie and Uncle Johns. Sunday was family time. Stores were not open on Sunday during my childhood. Everyone would make something and we would spend the afternoon eating together.

The radio was almost always on a Greek radio station. They would broadcast during certain hours. I didn't understand the words, but Aunt Lula would sing right along with the songs. My cousins, Stasi, Vicki, and I were the official salad dressing testers. At that time, it was usually ice berg lettuce. Sometimes, I still like the crisp iceberg lettuce as a base for my salad. It reminds me of my childhood days. I had never heard of any kind of salad dressing but olive oil and vinegar. That is what was used on the salad. A pinch of salt, or two? This was an important decision for us girls to make. We took our job seriously. :) We were ready to eat!! Foods were Greek, although to me they were just "normal" foods. I had never had green beans cooked in anything but tomato sauce and onions when I was little. As an adult, I enjoy them so many different ways. Potatoes, Greek style, were one of my favorite ways to cook them. Lemon, oregano, chicken broth (or water), olive oil, salt and pepper. That's it! Baked until tender. This is one of my comfort foods. There is still, to this day, an unwritten competition as to who makes the best: Aunt Lula, Uncle Vic, or anyone else brave enough for the challenge. Of course, in my family, no one is too proud to admit that theirs are the best!!!

While the meal was being prepared, there was always a plate of Kalamata olives, Feta or Kaseri cheese, and hard crusty bread for a snack. Green olives, peppers, and other appetizers. Dinner (I called it "lunch") would last for at least a few hours. Sitting at the table, talking and talking. We always had good times and laughter.

Most everything is a pinch of this and a pinch of that when I cook. Here is a basic recipe for Greek Style Potatoes:

"Patates"

1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
Juice of two lemons (I like my potatoes with a lot of lemon)
1/2 stick butter or margarine (My choice is butter)
1 Cup water or chicken broth to cover the bottom of the baking dish. If you are baking a chicken, use some of the drippings
1 tsp oregano
1 medium onion, quartered
I also put lemon pepper on them just because I like it!!
sea salt probably 1 or two tsp and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F

Put cut potatoes and quartered onion in a baking dish - I think they taste better baked in a stainless steel pan

drizzle olive oil over the potatoes

Put "pats" of butter on potatoes
sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, pepper, lemon pepper and oregano to taste. I don't use too much oregano on the potatoes.

Bake at least 40 minutes, turning and basting with the pan juices, until they are tender when pierced with a knife. Mine usually bake for about an hour. Add more water or broth to the pan if more liquid needed. You can up the heat to 425 to get them brown to your liking.

Add more broth or water to the pan to keep juice on the bottom of pan. (This is good on top of them after they are cooked).

Serve with additional lemon juice if desired, and top with sea salt.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Papa Bill's Lentil Soup



  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound cleaned brown lentil peas
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1 large carrot finely chopped
  • Greek Seasoning: A dash of oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
Directions

  1. Saute onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil.. use low heat
  2. Add chicken stock and 6 cups of water
  3. Add Lentils
  4. Add oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice. Bring to a boil and cook slowly for 30 minutes or until rice and lentils are tender
Serve with feta cheese, crusty hard bread, and a nice Greek Salad

Serves 6

Thanks to my cousin, Barbara Ann, for the recipe




Monday, April 13, 2009

My Grandparents

My dad's parents; Chrisoula and Dimitrious Papanicolopoulos came from southern Greece.  The mountain area near Kalamata (where they grown the delicious olives).  I never knew my grandmother (yia-yia), but my grandfater, "papa Jimmy" lived with us for the first years of my life.   He found a place to grow corn, strawberries, and even a grapes in our yard (The grapevine "ate" my slinky).  Papa had a restaurant in downtown Atlanta when my father was a child. Papa, dad, and mom all cooked.  Papa was a great cook.   I thought everyone roasted a whole lamb at Easter.  Papa never lost his Greek accent.  He cussed like a sailor, but only us kids could really understand him.  (we never repeated the swear words).  We would walk for miles together.  I remember walking to the convenience store when young... I know it had to be a few miles one way.  Papa would purchase juicy fruit gum and candy for us and the neighborhood kids.  Everyone knew Papa.  He would cut the lawns of practically everyone in the neighborhood just because he enjoyed doing it.  He never asked for payment, just some cold water.  He was proud of his neighborhood, and wanted all of the lawns to look nice.  My two Papa's; Jimmy and Bill would only speak to each other in Greek.  I loved and adored both of them.

My mother's mother was of Irish heritage, her father was a Greek Cypriot.  I never knew her mother. Mom inherited her mothers auburn hair and gorgeous green eyes.  She had her father's olive complexion. My cousin is trying to trace the ancestry of my maternal grandmother's  family. They  had been in the U.S. for quite some time, so mom had an interesting diet of "good ol' southern cooking" and "Mediterranean" cooking while growing up in Virginia.  I enjoy Irish food, and make a great stew with Guinness.  I make a wonderful corned beef for St. Patrick's day too!  

 Her father, Akieviades Aloneftis, came to the U.S. when he was in his 20's.  He could speak eight languages.  I have always enjoyed the study of languages, even if it is only enough to say common pleasantries and such.  Being from Cyprus, "Papa Bill" (he changed his name to William Long when arriving in the U.S.), enjoyed and respected everything about the sea.  He was a great cook too. There was rarely a time when he came for a visit that my mom didn't make him some Greek Coffee.  Papa would turn the cup upside down on the saucer for a few minutes after he finished drinking his coffee.  I remember him reading the fortunes from the pattern it formed in the cup.  He was a great story teller, so I know he may have embellished the fortunes a bit.  I would love to hear mine now.  I'm sure that when I was little, it was a fortune fit for his "jolie" granddaughter!  When I started studying French in high school, he would say; "tu es tres jolie" (you are very pretty). He called me "his beautiful" since I can remember.  What a wonderful feeling to feel so much love from both of my grandfathers.  

He built Chesapeake Bay worthy boats for his kids when they lived in Hampton, VA.  Mom could shuck oysters with the best of them.  She loved crab too, but became allergic to them when she was older.  Papa was a carpenter, artist, cook, and an all around interesting person.  My cousin has friends in Cyprus trying to find relatives. I hope to visit the place of his birth one day.  

I learned so many things from both of my grandfathers.  They were both nurturing to their grandchildren and families.  Morals and many of my thoughts and beliefs got their start from these wonderful people in my life.  They treated people with honesty, integrity, and kindness.

French Fries on Wednesday

I tried to think of a creative title that would show my interest in foods.  I started thinking about my favorite foods: french fries, crab legs, strawberries, cookies, Greek food, and anything eaten at an outdoor cafe in Paris.  

When I was a little girl, my parents would go out every Wednesday night.  My grandfather, "Papa",  a Greek immigrant, did everything for his grandchildren.  Having owned a restaurant, food was no problem.  He was a short order cook for our breakfast. Pancakes (or hot-ah-cakes), eggs, grits, or cereal could all be prepared to delight my two brothers and myself.  We didn't know how lucky we were.  What child doesn't love french fries?  I can't think of one who doesn't like them.  That is what we wanted when mom and dad went out for the evening.  French fries, JUST French fries, nothing else.  He would prepare them fresh, using fresh oil each time.  Plates and plates of delicious fries.  We ate until we could eat no more.  We had some good friends that heard about this special French fry meal and wanted to join us.  So, on occasion, they would join us for dinner.  Mom never said anything and we thought we were really getting away with something special.  Many years later, she said: "how could I not know?.... a five pound bag of potatoes were gone over night, plus the house smelled like one giant french fry"!  To this day, you can ask anyone who grew up with us who made the best fries.  The answer is always "Papa".  So, this is how I came to call my first blog:

"French Fries On Wednesday"

I hope you enjoy some of my adventures from the past and present.    So, sit down, grab something to eat and drink, and enjoy.  There is always a place at my table for you! Lisa

Labels

Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
There was an error in this gadget

Wine of the Day