Blue Bunnies!


 I've been collecting items for a blue Easter table for a few years.  This year, I finally found some carrots and decided it was time to set the table!  Palm Sunday had a blue table.


What could be cuter than these blue bunnies?  Pottery plates on top of a Staffordshire pattern ... and the goblets have a grape leave pattern similar to the pattern of the dinner plates.  That blue carrot makes me happy!



Blue and white place mats, napkins ... and the cute blue floral bunny ear napkin rings laid the foundation for the tablescape!


My composed centerpiece on the edge of the table is made using stuffed blue rabbit silhouettes and a couple resin rabbits.  Simple. Shabby.  Sweet.





Enjoy!







Dame Melba's Peaches

Dame Nellie Melba was born Helen Porter Mitchell  on May 19, 1861 in Richmond (Melbourne), Victoria, Australia.  Her father had moved from Scotland to Australia in 1852 and was a successful builder.  Her mother was dedicated to teaching her daughter music. Mitchell took the name Melba (after her hometown of Melbourne) later in life, but she made her first public singing appearance at age six. 





Dame Nellie Melba


Dame Nellie Melba studied singing in Melbourne and performed there.  She had a short marriage to a man who abused her physically, so she moved to London to find engagements.  That wasn’t successful, so she moved on to Parish where she did find success and then to Brussels.  After those successes, she returned to London and this time was successful.  She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1893.

She was popular even though her singing roles included 10 that she did very well and another 15 that she was less well known for.  She raised money for war charities during the WWI.  She sang and performed in operas until the end of her life in 1931.



Dame Nellie remained married as she and her husband had a son, but she eventually had an affair with Duke Phillipe d’Orleans, who had a claim to the throne of France from 1894 to 1926. They generated lots of gossip, but none so scandalous as when they traveled to St. Petersburg together where she sang for Tsar Nicholas II. The Dame’s husband filed for divorce, naming Prince Phillipe. That embarrassment was more than his family wanted, so he was made to break off his relationship with the singer. He did so by going on a two-year safari in Africa and leaving her behind.

Melba made many recordings.  She was the first world renowned opera singer to sing live on the radio.  She was honored in many ways for her charity work.  There are plaques, statues and places named after her.  her face is on postage stamps, coins and 100 dollar bills.  French Chef Auguste Escoffier, probably the most popular chef in his historic era, named four foods for her.  Melba toast, Melba sauce, Melba Garniture (chicken, truffles and mushrooms stuffed into tomatoes) and Peach Melba, which I’m featuring in this post.

My favorite fact about Dame Nellie Melba is the fact that after her career had come to making her one of the most popular opera singers, she returned to Australia and performed a series of “concerts for the people”, with very low ticket prices so common people could see and hear her perform.  That’s class!

Escoffier’s recipe for Peach Melba is actually kind of easy.  The most work required is in the sauce!  Peach Melba is a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with two peach halves … drizzled with freshly made raspberry sauce.  To peel the peaches, you simply blanch them in boiling water and place them in cold water.  The peels will slice off.  Cut them in half and remove the pits.

To make the sauce, press fresh raspberries through a wire mesh sieve so the seeds remain in the sieve.  Add confectioner’s sugar to the raspberry juice/syrup.  The sweet syrup is fantastic!



At my house, we like to grill peach halves in the summertime and serve them in a glass of port wine!  Grilled peaches over vanilla ice cream with the raspberry sauce is really good, too!   When we cannot get fresh peaches, we used canned peach halves … and sometimes I serve this using lemon sherbet instead of ice cream. 

This post is a part of my 2021 Foods Named After Famous People project.  If you'd like to read similar articles, just click the menu tab.  I'll share with a couple blog parties, too, so check the short list on my sidebar.






Judge Logan's Berries

 

Having grown up in a little town that had a historic figure who was named Logan, my eyes are trained to notice that name!  This Logan was the Civil War General John A. Logan.  I’m not writing about him, today!


My Logan today is James Harvey Logan who was born in Rockville, Indiana in 1841.  He moved to Santa Cruz, California where he was a judge.  He served as District Attorney in the 1870s and ten years later was elected by Democrats and Independents to the Superior Court and served ten more years as a judge.


Logan was in a perfect climate to practice his amateur botany!  He created the Loganberry by crossing a raspberry and a blackberry! This creation was an accident!  He planted his raspberries too close to some old blackberry plants!  The Loganberry tastes a little like a tart blackberry, but it is not as tart as a raspberry.  It makes wonderful jelly, jams and is easily frozen to use later for cobblers and pies.  Lots of sugar and a little lemon juice mellows out the flavor when used in pies and cobblers.


James Harvey Logan loved community.  In the 1870s, the Grove Lumber Mill was located nearby.  In 1900, Logan purchased the mill and created a Creekside resort, later owned by Dr. F K. Camp a Seventh-day Adventist physician, and was followed by many owners. It was closed in 2019 for renovations.   Logan’s Brookdale Lodge provided wonderful resort lodging and spa services to the rich and famous and was at one time, the second most popular in California.

In the early 1900s, Loganberries were being grown in Salem, Oregon.  By 1913, when Salem went ‘dry’, two factories began making juice from the berries and marketing it as the alternative to alcohol.  When Prohibition hit the United States, these two factories merged and began marketing nationally with ads that included ‘mocktail’ recipes using the Loju … Loganberry juice! 


Loganberries are grown in many places, but I seldom find them in my part of the Midwest. What I do have access to is wonderful Loganberry jam made by Mrs. Miller’s Jams, a company based in Fredericksburg, Ohio.  Of course, this jam is delicious on toast, French toast … and smeared on a biscuit!  Today, Miss Phoebe and I are going to have a supper of appetizers, and our star will be a creamy brie cheese topped with Loganberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry.  It is so easy to do this!

 


How to do it?

Thaw a package of puff pastry.  This won’t take but about 45 minutes.  Cut the end off the pastry so you have a square.  Place the brie cheese right in the middle and top it with about 1/4 cup of jam.  Sprinkle a few chopped nuts on top.  Dampen the corners of the pastry, then pull them up over the cheese.  Press them so they seal.  Brush the pastry with an egg wash.  You can sprinkle on more nuts if you’d like.  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let the package cool about ten minutes before serving.  Serve it with your favorite cracker and apple slices ... or just enjoy it with the pastry!

So good!

 


James Harvey Logan
Creator of Loganberries


This column is part of my 2021 project, Foods Named after Famous People!  Logan might not have been well known nation-wide, but he was certainly well known in Santa Cruz!  I’ll also post with a couple parties, so make sure you look at the short list on my sidebar.


Saint Patrick's Day 2021


I always set a St. Pat's Day table!  I have lots of green and I enjoy using it.  I had the most fun with this scape by creating the three-tiered display using things from all over the house ... including the Irish Spring soap!


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A Temptations dish on top of a Tiara sweet pear plate!  



The most significant pieces on this tiered display are the three stacked butter pats in the lower left picture.  Those were my husband's grandmother's.  I'd date them about 1930.  The little salt dip is much younger!  Phoebe and I found them at an outdoor flea market and I bought them only because the spoons are also glass.



This oil painting is a find from BigLot's!  Can you believe that?  I love the  combination of the peach with the bold greens.


I like to throw in something of a color that is outside of the traditions!  For this table, the teal blue is that pop I was looking for.



I'll share this with a couple blog parties, so take a look at the short list on my sidebar!  Enjoy!




 

Chicken a' la King or Keene?


One of my favorite Thanksgiving left-overs is Turkey a la King! Since 1976, I have served it the day after Thanksgiving for brunch! My husband may have loved it more than the actual Thanksgiving Dinner! Truly!

The original Chicken a la King has a history with mixed versions. Who can really know when and where this scrumptious dish made its first appearance! Chicken served in a cream sauce with similar additions to my favorite was around long before anybody named it after the last name “King” or “Keene”. Let’s look at a few versions of this story, but first I want you to know my history with the dish!

My husband and I were married the week before Thanksgiving, and I distinctly remember that first big meal I fixed for the family. The next day, as I looked at all the left-overs, I opened up my blue and white Good Housekeeping cookbook and found a picture of Chicken a la King ... and that started the tradition.



Now, I wasn't new to the dish. When I was in high school, my mom would keep Banquet brand boiling bag portions of Chicken a la King in the freezer. I walked home for lunch ... had plenty of time to fix one of those ... and still get back to school in time for afternoon classes. I loved the stuff!


Good news for me. My husband loved it too, but his first taste came on our little kitchen table during the first week of marriage! I'm not sure what he loved the most ... the Thanksgiving Day turkey ... or brunch the day after!

The origination dates for Chicken a la King range from 1881 to the 1920s. Most of the recipes include diced chicken, mushrooms, green peppers and pimentos in a cream sauce with a little sherry added. It is typically served over toast.

These stories are retold on www.foodtimeline.org, one of my favorite sites for checking the history of foods!


Keene on his racehorse, Foxhall

It is possible that in the 1890s, Mr. and Mrs. Foxhall Keene told the chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City about the dish that was originally created for Keene’s father in 1881. The chef at the Claridge Hotel in London created it for J. R. Keene Senior in commemoration of J.R.’s horse having just won the Grand Prix in Paris.

Foxhall

Other stories indicate that the dish was created in Miami, on Long Island or at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City … all in the 1920s.


Vintage Postcard of Brighten Beach Hotel


Another story attributes the dish to Chef George Greenwald at the Brighten Beach Hotel in New York. The date is sketchy on that one ranging from 1898 to the early 1900s. He prepared the dish, tested it on the owners Mr. and Mrs. E. Clark King II. The next day it went on the menu for $1.25 and became a huge success.

We’re not sure if this scrumptious brunch dish started out having been named after a “Keene” or a “King”, but we do know it has remained popular for over a hundred years!

I’m sharing my recipe for the version that uses left-over turkey from Thanksgiving Dinner! You can use the remains of a rotisserie chicken or you can simmer a big chicken breast and use it.




Next Day Turkey a la King

1 stick butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
4 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chopped turkey
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup peas
¼ cup sliced green pimento stuffed olives

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and sauté the mushrooms, onions and celery until the vegetables are soft. Blend in the flour and add the chicken stock. Continue to stir and add the turkey, peas and milk. The sauce should begin to thicken. As a last step, add the olives and a little olive juice for flavor. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve this over toast, biscuits, toasted corn bread or puff pastry.





This is a part of my 2021 project, Foods Named after Famous People! I’ll be sharing it with a couple blog parties. Enjoy!

Thomas Jefferson's Apricots and Rice

Thomas Jefferson: The third president of the United States, a framer
of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, an architect, an adventurer, a scholar, a teacher, a diplomat, a planter … and yes, a slave owner who fathered children with his wife’s half-sister who was actually enslaved by Jefferson. It is the diplomat, adventurer and planter that I want to know best! Of all the accomplishments of this man, his quest to explore the United States to the west is my favorite topics. The Louis and Clark Expedition is one of my favorite parts of this history lesson!

However, it is the planter and vast land-owner that I’ll talk about today! Jefferson was a foodie! He loved his gardens. Historians call it a Revolutionary American garden and it included what they call economic plants from all over the world. He had 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and herbs. He grew 170 varieties of fruit. He supported small farmers and sustainable agriculture! Sound familiar? We need more Thomas Jeffersons today.


Jefferson enjoyed a diet of fresh vegetables and because of the diplomatic time he spent in France, he introduced French cooking styles to his household. His world travels introduced him to the culinary and gardening traditions in England, Spain and the Mediterranean. He blended that with Colonial European/American cuisine … the foodways of the Native Americans, Black slaves and Creoles … and created a legacy of food that we continue to study and enjoy.

The United States as an agricultural nation with large scale exports was a dream of Jefferson’s. To that end, he focused on rice production and searched for rice that would grow in a dryer environment that what we grew in the southeast. He watched as an Italian rice variety outsold American rice in Paris markets. He went to Italy and smuggled out samples of the rice in his pockets! He sent those to planters in America. Later, he studied rice from Cochin China (Vietnam), but was never able to get seeds. None-the-less, he wanted to improve the health conditions that surrounded growing rice in stagnant ponds of water. We are finally growing rice on dry land in the United States. Laotian farmers in Appalachia are growing it on those small farms that Jefferson loved.

Delmonico's
New York City

Apricots with rice √† la Jefferson is a dish created by Delmonico’s Chef Charles Ranhofer. Jefferson died forty years before Ranhofer began his duties at the popular New York City restaurant, but Ranhofer clearly thought it was important to name the dish made with a new rice being grown in Texas … after Jefferson. Ranhofer’s heavy book, The Epicurean, includes a second recipe using apricots and named after Jefferson and it seems that he combined that stewed apricot recipe with rice pudding to celebrate the new Texas rice.

The Chef made a beautiful rice pudding that was chilled and blended with whipped cream. He molded the pudding into layers and between the layers he spread a nice portion of apricot marmalade. He topped the beautiful rice pudding bomb with pineapple. Doesn’t that sound deliciously sweet?

I’m going to share two rice pudding recipes today. One is easily made in an instant pot/pressure cooker. The other comes from my childhood. My mother always made good use of a long baking oven! If she was roasting a chicken, she’d put rice pudding in the oven, too. When she made meatloaf, it often came out with scalloped potatoes, baked beans … and rice pudding!



Easy and Delicious Rice Pudding


Rinse 1 cup of long grain rice until water runs clear. Place the rice in a multi-functional electric pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of milk, 1 1/2 cups of water, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a dash of salt and stir well. Lock the lid and set the pot to cook rice. When the rice is done and the pressure has reduced, add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and a handful of raisins. Put the lid back on the cooker and set it for 3 minutes … just long enough to let all the flavors blend.


Rice Pudding the Way Mama Made It!


2 eggs
4 cups milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 uncooked rice
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the eggs, sugar and milk together. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, butter and rice and stir well. Place in a prepared 2 quart covered casserole dish in a 350 degree oven. The pudding will bake for an hour … maybe more. Stir it occasionally and and if the milk spews over the edge, remove the lid or tilt it so steam can escape. If you don’t have a lid, foil works fine!

You can make the pretty rice pudding bomb with either of these recipes. Simply chill the pudding, then layer it in a rounded bowl. Prepare the bowl with a non-stick spray so the the pudding comes out easily when inverted.



This post is part of my Foods Named After Famous People 2021 project! If you’d like to see similar columns, just click the menu tab. Enjoy!

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