Food From Friends

June 11 – June 17, 2018


Thyme from Hilda’s Garden

Monday:                   Steak Diane with Caesar Salad

pesto pasta

Tuesday:                   Pasta with Mint / Breadcrumb Pesto, Marinated Vegetables with Feta


Wednesday:            Pork Tenderloin with Peach-Mustard Sauce and Spicy Thai Slaw


Thursday:            Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Dinner honoring Rick Bayless

Spectacular Apps and Dinner from Justin Severino et. al.


Thyme from Hilda’s Garden

Friday:                  Post-golf dinner with Hilly and Dick and Tim and Hilda at Tim and Hilda’s – Best meal of the week – Mad Apps, grilled swordfish, Salad of Greens and Mushrooms with Buttermilk Dressing, and a Strawberry/Blueberry Tart that could win a competition.


Saturday:                  The same gang at our house – Grilled Oysters, Grilled Chicken Chemuin, Grilled Ribs, Cole Slaw, Blackberry Ice-Box Cake.


BLT with Devilled Egg – Sunday Brunch

Sunday:                     Leftovers with Hilda’s Greens/Mushroom Salad, Buttermilk Dressing

“My biggest pet peeve is when you go to a fine restaurant, and it’s like

 a mausoleum inside. Good food should be joyful. There should be laughter

 and chatter, not people sitting there like they’re in a funeral-parlor waiting

 room.”  –  Jim Harrison

[Note:  Jim is [was] a good writer from the Midwest, long on fishing and

hunting and boozing and extramarital stuff, and a pretty good cook in his

own right.  Had he been Pittsburgh Irish, he would not have equated funeral

parlors with silence, but I know what he means about some restaurants.]

There was much laughter and absolutely no quiet on Friday night at Time and Hilda’s or on Saturday at our place.  Hilly and Dick were up from the Eastern Shore to play golf, catch us up on their world travels and family and knock back a few, while enjoying some good cooking.

The best meal of the week was Tim’s grilled swordfish and Hilda’s salad on Friday.  But the dinner cooked by Justin Severino and other Pittsburgh chefs in honor of Rick Bayless was pretty good, too.

I don’t have Hilda’s recipe for the salad – which was still delicious two nights later when we had some with leftovers – but I do have a recipe from Larry Mayfield, history buff, insurance expert, renowned cicerone in Charleston, South Carolina, gourmand and cocktail connoisseur.  So, Larry’s Bourbon Chicken will be our “keeper” for the week.  I’m going to toss in Jacques Pépin’s recipe for ‘Fountainbleau Cheese,’ a staple appetizer at our house, since Hilly asked how to make this supremely simple and delicious stuff.  Just add crackers or crusty bread and crudités and you have some good bites to go with a glass of wine or a cocktail, like Larry’s Manhattan, pictured below.

It’s a busy week, with both Beez and myself on the road, and that means a shortened post.  I’ll have time to digress, excoriate and extol next week – brace yourself.


(Courtesy of) Larry Mayfield, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

For the past few years, Bill Stewart, on learning that I have begun cooking late in life, has shared with me the interesting foods and affiliated places of his “What We Cooked Last Week” blog.  He asked me to send a recipe – and I’m submitting a modest dish that friends and family love.  The original variations had no bourbon in them, as they were supposedly done by a Chinese cook on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street.  However, on experimenting, I swapped out a ½ cup of water for bourbon, and the spirit really changes the complexity and sweetness and considerably improves the sauce the dish.  Below the dish, I suggest a very time-tested recipe for the perfect accompanying drink whilst preparing the meal.


2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cut to bite size chunks
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove
¼ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (can do ¾ to make it notably hotter)
¼ cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
½ cup bourbon*
1/3 cup soy sauce

Suggestion: Prepare some brown rice – the perfect accompaniment to this chicken.

*Some of my friends have asked, “Can I just use some cheap bourbon?”  At age 73, my response is:  I neither buy, serve, nor drink cheap bourbon.  What if a freight train runs over me tomorrow?  I could not die with that on my conscience.   Plop in some Maker’s and enjoy the dish.

1              Heat oil in large skillet

2              Brown the chicken lightly but fully on both sides

3              Remove the chicken to a separate dish and use the skillet to receive the remaining items

4              Add all the ingredients to the skillet and cook and stir over medium heat until nicely dissolved

5              Add the chicken back and now let it all go to a hard boil

6              Reduce heat a tad and then do a 20 minute simmer so the chicken cooks and sauce reduces nicely

7              Put the chicken over the rice and pour that nice sauce over it

To drink while preparing: the Manhattan – Louisville Kentucky Style

Preparation: One martini glass filled with ice and a little water to chill

Also: Shaker filled with small chipped ice


1 shot of Maker’s Mark or other premium bourbon
1 shot of Cinzano Red Vermouth
4 splashes Fee Bros. Cherry Bitters
Maraschino cherry

1              Pour in bourbon and vermouth and bitters and shake gently 25 times.  This is bourbon, not a pair of maracas.

2              Empty glass and crack the shaker just a little and pour into class from there rather than using the strainer … this allows little ice chips to float and keep the drink cool and tasty.

3              Add a splash of the cherry juice and dump in the cherry.  Cheers!


Fountainbleau Cheese [appetizer]

(adapted from Jacques Pépin, Heart and Soul in the Kitchen)

Timing:                     2 hours to chill (overnight is better), less than 10 minutes to make


8 oz. of Cream Cheese – one package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (original is best – do not buy the whipped stuff in the plastic tub as it will not set up correctly)

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
¼ teaspoon of salt (we use ½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (we use a full teaspoon – pepper makes this cheese)
Toasts, sliced baguette, or crudités (endive, radish, celery, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, tomato, etc.)

Make the Cheese:

Place the cream cheese in the microwave and heat for 45 seconds to soften.  Use a bowl large enough to hold the cream and whipped cream you’ll be adding to the cheese.

Combine the softened cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and the salt and pepper and mix well with a whisk.

Whip the ½ cup of cream until it is firm, then combine it with the cream cheese mixture.

Chill the Cheese:

Moisten the inside of two 1 cup or one 2 cup bowl(s) or ramekin with water.  Line the bowl(s) with plastic wrap  (the water will help the plastic to adhere smoothly to the bowl.  This is important – the plastic wrap lining allows you to invert the bowls and place the cheese on a serving dish.  If you forget the lining, you’ll be serving directly from the bowls.

Fill the bowls with the cheese and fold the ends of the plastic wrap over the top of the cheese.

Refrigerate for at least two hours – overnight is better.

Serve the Cheese:

Invert bowl onto a plate and remove the plastic wrap.  Serve with a spoon or knife for scooping the cheese and the toasts and/or crudités suggested above.


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