Chef’s Table Series

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Why have I not heard of this Netflix documentary series before today?

Chef’s Table is a series so worth watching! Be careful, it is addicting. I am amazed at the quality of production, the cinematography, story lines and the food presentations are so outstanding it is hard to convey. You just have to watch it for yourselves.

Each episode has a story behind the story of the food served and the vision the chef is trying to express. So far, I have been truly moved by the stories behind the story. It has also fed my creative soul and inspired me to continue my path and talent.

Do yourself a favor…try it out.

 

 

Not So Basic Risotto

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It was the late 80’s and new words crept into our vocabularies- corporate takeovers, out placement, downsizing. In the blink of an eye, my husband’s 18 year career with a major food corporation came to an end due to a corporate takeover. You go through a whole range of emotions, but you know you have to move on. Of course, when new employment was found, it meant another relocation. So, the ladies bid me farewell, gave me a new cookbook,  and invited me to come back as I was only 3 hours away.

 

I was reluctant to let these wonderful ladies go. I was 44 years old and this was the first time in my life that I had enjoyed being with a group of ladies so much. So, I took Madlyn up on her offer to stay with her and cook lunch at her house. Now our group was divided in to two camps. Those who did a trial run on their recipes and those who did not. I was a member of the latter. I feel pretty confident about reading that list of ingredients and thinking that it sounds good. And, we usually discussed the recipes after lunch noting any changes we would make when preparing it again.

 

Now I don’t know about you, but I always find it a little difficult to cook in someone else’s kitchen no matter how well stocked and designed. One of the sides I planned was Basic Risotto. I had never prepared this before but it was “basic“, right? The ladies arrived and I was already stirring. And stirring, and stirring, and stirring. How about another glass of wine while I keep stirring? I think lunch ended up being about an hour late that day. No complaints from the ladies who were gracious as ever. Did I change my ways and test my recipes after that? Of course not!

In the end what really mattered was that we were together. My recipe will not be included since it was not to my standard.

Robyn

Girl Powered By Soup

Unity Debbie   September 1991

 

Our hostess, Robyn, attended a Welcome Wagon luncheon at the prestigious Jefferson Club in Louisville and the talk was all about how stunning she was in a tailored black suit that made all her gourmet luncheon gal pals happy for her and pea green with envy. Her red hair was coiffed in a new short curly style and she was all smiles, showing off that new svelte figure. When asked what made her decide to shed some pounds, her answer is still unforgettable. “With all that is happening around me that I can not control, this is the one thing I can, so I did.” A fierce woman who makes her mind up about something is awesome.

 

Her watching her weight did not affect the delicious meal we would have today. She is one of the best cooks we have in the group and portion control seemed her way to success in the recent weight loss and maintaining it. The two soups and cheese bread were perfect for this late fall lunch and dessert had that good old down home taste, but with a patriotic flare. We all said when we received the recipes next month we would write “Yummy” on everything and try to reproduce it just as she had, perfectly.

 

Robyn later told us she took the leftover sausage soup to a Corn Island Storytelling event in town and it was so hot she could barely eat it. So, if you make the dish remember this note, it gets hotter with time. As for her, she has too…new figure, new hair, new outlook and a great cook to boot…she’s a catch for sure we told her.

True friends support each other when things are bad and even more when they are good.

Girl Power is the best!

 

Unique note: One of the earliest uses of the phrase “Girl Power” was in 1987 by a London-based ‘capella’ all-girl group called ‘Mint Juleps’ in a song entitled ‘Girl to the Power of 6’.

Funny their group was called “Mint Juleps” being that this group of ladies that lunch was based in Louisville, Kentucky – the home of the Mint Julep and the Derby!

Recipes

Spanish Sausage and Lentil Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil                                                                                                          1 bay leaf

1 lb. chorizo sausage (our hostess used Tasso..a little hotter)           ¾ tsp thyme crumbled

7 ounces smoked ham, finely chopped        12 large spinach leaves trimmed and shredded

2 large onions, finely chopped                     1 large green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped                                                         2 cloves garlic minced

¼ tsp ground cumin                                                                    8-9 cups rich chicken stock

(1) 1 lb. can tomatoes                                                               ½ lb. dried lentils (1 ¼ cups)

Salt & Pepper to taste 

Heat olive oil in heavy 6-8 qt saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until fat is rendered then transfer sausage to platter. Drain off all but 2 Tbsp of grease and add ham, onion, green pepper, carrot, and cover and cook 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme and cumin and cook an additional 5 minutes covered.

Meanwhile, thinly slice sausage and add to saucepan along with stock, tomatoes and lentils. Reduce the heat and partially cover and cook on simmer for about 2 hours or until the lentils dissolve.

Discard any fat from surface and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm with shredded spinach on top for garnish.

Can be prepared up to 3 days earlier if refrigerated and if frozen will stay up to 3 months.

Yield is 8-10 servings.

 

Red Pepper Soup

Saute’ in butter – 1 large onion, chopped

                        5 red sweet peppers, chopped

                             3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Make a white sauce – ¼ cup butter

                                   ¼ cup flour

                                   2 cups milk

Add 2 cups beef broth to sautéed veggies and white sauce, salt & pepper & Tobasco to taste or use Creole seasoning instead.

 

Cheese Pepper Bread

1 pkg active yeast                                             1 cup sour cream

 ¼ cup HOT tap water                                       1 egg

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour                               1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp sugar                                                      ½ tsp pepper

 ¼ tsp baking soda                                            pinch of salt 

Grease two 1 lb. coffee cans. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast into hot water then add 1 1/3 cups of the flour, add the sugar, salt, soda, sour cream and egg and blend on low speed, scraping the bowl constantly. Beat for 2 minutes at high speed all the while scarping the bowl, then stir in remaining flour, the cheese and the pepper. Blend thoroughly.

Divide the batter into the two cans and let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes. Heat oven to 350 and bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately from cans and slice after it has cooled.

(if you use self rising flour do not use soda or salt in the recipe) 

 

Peach Cobbler Yankee Doodle Style

Yield 8 servings 

For Fruit Filling –

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

5 pounds peaches, halved, pitted and wedged

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup instant tapioca

 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon peel

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

 

For Biscuits –

2 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

 1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

 ¼ cup CHILLED unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 cup sour cream 

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream

For Fruit: Position rack in lower third of oven and pre-heat to 425. Grease a 10x14x2 baking dish. Place peaches in large bowl with sugar, tapioca, lemon juice. Lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss gently. Let stand 10 minutes. 

For Biscuits: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in processor. Add butter and cut using pulse method until mixture looks like crumbles. Add sour cream and blend just until soft dough forms. Turn out dough on marble slab that is lightly floured and need until no longer sticky (about 30 turns) Roll dough out to ½ inch thick and cut out stars with a cookie cutter. Continue to gather dough and cut more stars. 

Transfer fruit into prepared dish and top with stars. Bake until juices bubble and thicken and biscuits are golden in color (about 50 minutes). Let cobbler cool a little then serve with the ice cream and sprinkle the powdered sugar on the star biscuit.

 

 

Meet The Thoroughbroads

ky-841_sb_exit_035_10Madlyn came to Louisville with 4 young daughters and a husband with his own financial asset business. Well versed in homemaking skills and education, she was a consummate volunteer at the girl’s schools, served on the board of the local chapter of the March of Dimes and promoted strong friendships, grace and “girl power”. She was active in women’s groups and was a catalyst in developing our monthly luncheons. She was quite a seamstress, making most of the draperies in her traditional home, a great deal of the clothes she wore and she quilted as well. With her keen sense of humor, she was a delight to be around.

She would later move to the deep south of Georgia.

 

Robyn moved to Louisville after traveling with her husband on his career journey with a huge food manufacturer. It had required many moves throughout the US, so she was full of eclectic stories from the many diverse states they had lived in. With no children, she engaged in the arts and gardening along with participating in many activities within the community. A “serial learner”, she always found something to share with her gal pals and was our go to girl when we had questions or needed advice on something. Her home was more minimalist due to the many moves, but was full of unique items she had picked up along their path to Kentucky.

She would later go back to school in Alabama for a degree in horticulture and currently resides there.

 

Scarlett supported her husband in the move to Louisville, even though it would end her own career as a free-lance interior designer in Atlanta & Savannah. This was her first move away from the Georgia. In fact, upon arriving in Louisville in search of a new home, she made the comment that she had no idea Louisville was “up North” (after seeing a sign on the highway directing drivers to Cincinnati). She was not aware it was only an hour up the road… oh dear Yankees. Having no children, she spent her time remodeling the home they purchased and was active in a local newcomer club for her social engagements. She was an avid collector of antiques and creative arts and helped in running many of the newcomer’s events in Louisville.

She would later remarry and move to a “bedroom community” of Louisville. She and Robyn would stay life-long friends.

 

Amy was Miss Sunshine. She always smiled and was the epitome of taking all things in stride. She had moved to “the Ville” and found a contemporary country home with some land where she could be a little away from the city. With animals abounding outside, it was a true getaway from city life, even if it was only 20 minutes from town. We loved gathering at her home because it was full of outdoor light. She was the epitome of bringing the “outside in” and her home reflected that feeling. Funny… because her husband was in the window business…pardon the pun. Amy, her house and her cooking all reflected that outdoorsy lifestyle.

She actually moved from Louisville to Pella, Iowa (the window capital of the world)  and we lost touch with her.

 

Kristen was a talented artist who had moved from North Carolina to Louisville with her husband and two children. He was the manager of a new golf course in town and worked many hours, due to its popularity. It was a very famous celebrity pro-golfer’s course and over the years it would host many well-known championships featured on television. She participated in a great deal of the entertaining at the course. With her kids in school, she had free time to discover more of her talents. Cooking turned out to be one of those we got to enjoy, for her dishes were always popular and we loved coming to her home full of creativity. Kristen was a quality artist, her paintings and sketches were wonderful and we always wished she would help us develop our artistic side.

Kristin still lives in “the Ville” and the golf course is world reknowned.

 

J.J. lived in one of the up and coming new subdivisions on the outskirts of downtown. She was busy with a number of activities where she had met many new Louisvillians. She played golf frequently and her interests wrapped around an active lifestyle. She enjoyed cooking easy simple dishes and stayed thin with healthy selections and staying active.

This healthy eating thing was new to most of us at the time. Who knew it would become a way of life for us all, knowing where your food comes from, wanting organic grown veggies and non steroid meats, watching food channels with chefs using fresh items, growing their own herbs on the roof tops or behind their restaurants.

Louisville has even become a Mecca for young chefs with new ideas and is listed as a Top 10 Foodie Destination. She was ahead of her time and we did not appreciate it… some of us have felt guilty that we would leave her house hungry and stop to get a fast food burger on the ride home. J.J.,  we should have followed your lead and been more aware of what goes in your mouth shows up in your backside later in life. In the 80’s we were young…not so much anymore.

We lost track of J.J. but are sure she is healthier than the rest of us and her golf game is still on point.