Tuesday, September 27, 2011



These wraps are a tasty treat that have grown on Larry over the years.  Elizabeth has always been the adventurous one going to Japanese Curry Houses, Sushi bars, and (Larry is positive) restaurants that serve monkey brains.  Larry used to find Denny's adventurous ... and, well, in a way it is!  Mystery eggs and strange tasting ham, Sam I am.

Elizabeth made these wraps in Los Angeles and by the second time she prepared them, Larry was a convert.  He even has grown to like the Kim Chi (a definite acquired taste; see below) that may served with it. 


1 1/4 pounds boneless beef sirloin tip, eye of round, or tri-tip.  Tender is the key here; don't worry about flavor, the marinade does that.

1/4 Soy Sauce (lower salt, if you prefer)
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp sliced green onion
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 head soft lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb, leaves, separated

Slice beef across the grain into very thin slices.  (For ease in slicing, place beef in freezer for 1 hour.)  Place between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound with flat side of meat mallet until very thin.  Cut slices into 3 to 4 inch square pieces.  (NOTE:  We've gotten so good with the thin slices, we just cut it very thin and then cut them in half.  Time saver.)

Place beef and all remaining ingredients except vegetable oil and lettuce in large resealable bag, seal bag and turn to coat evenly.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  (NOTE:  We have found 2 to 3 hours is best, otherwise the soy and sesame seeds become a bit overpowering.)

Heat wok or heavy large skillet (iron skillet) over medium high heat until very hot.  Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil; heat until hot.  Add beef in small batches along with a bit of the marinade; cook 30 to 60 seconds or until browned, turning once and adding additional oil, if necessary.  Place on platter, pour any pan juices over beef.  

Serve with lettuce leaves, sushi rice (sticky or Oriental or Japanese rice), and small cucumbers.  Place a bit of rice, two or three pieces of beef and a tiny cucumber over lettuce.  Wrap into a small package.  Pop into mouth.  Savor and enjoy.  

This is good served with Kim Chee.  Kim Chee is a national dish of Korea.  It is a VERY spice garlicky cabbage with red pepper.  You can buy it at most large grocery stores.  It is in the refrigerator section and comes in jars.  Start off with the mild.  You won't be sorry.  If you start off with the hot, you may be sorry ... but it is different and good.  If you are a sissy (or you can't find it locally) serve with cold slaw.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011



When Larry was a child his Grandmother had a pressure cooker and she used it a lot to can fresh vegetables from the prolific garden maintained by his Grandfather in their yard.  When it was on the stove the pressure cooker would hiss and the tiny valve perched precariously on the top would rock back and forth as the steam escaped allowing tantalizing odors to escape into the air.  

One day this idyllic venue erupted into a bomb!  Larry was just about to enter the kitchen when there was an enormous "whooooof" sound followed by whap, splat, whomp, splat, splat, splat.  When Larry walked into the kitchen the walls and ceiling looked like a Jackson Pollack painting covered with what we refer to as the drip and splatter school of art.  Only this was beans.  Beans on the ceiling, beans on the walls and beans on the windows and counter top.  Beans all over.  Larry's Grandmother ran to him to make sure he hadn't been parboiled by the erupting liquid.  Larry swore on the spot that no matter what, he would never, never allow a deadly weapon like that in his kitchen.  

Flash forward forty years. 

Cooking show.  Featuring a Pressure Cooker.  Larry was about to turn it off, when Elizabeth said, "Wait, they say it's explosion proof."  Larry replied, "Yeah, that's what they say, but I don't believe it.  Death by beans will not be in my future."  Elizabeth went on and on about all the wonderful meals we could make in a nanosecond  and it would be really good for us as we both worked and really didn't have time to cook during the week and it was on sale and we could return it if we didn't like it and we got a free cookbook with it and wasn't it really cute and it kept all of the nutrients in and .... well, you get the idea.  Three days later the doomsday machine arrived.

It was a Fagor Pressure Cooker and worked on the stove.  It had a safety lock on it so it was impossible for it to explode.  The first recipe we did was spaghetti sauce.  Larry refused to be in the kitchen until it was done and then ran in, removed the cooker from the stove and ran out of the kitchen until the pressure returned to normal.  It worked like a dream for over fifteen years.

Now, years later the Fagor Cooker is now replaced by a larger electric Cuisinart; pressure cooking is no longer a 'run for the bomb shelter' event in our family.  We have made many a wonderful meal in these safe to use appliances.  Food cooks amazingly fast.  Cheap cuts of meat become tender and the variations of what can be made in these machines is astounding and food comes out tender, flavors married like old folks celebrating their 60th anniversary.  We can not recommend them enough.  Do your self a favor and buy one.  Use it safely and in good health.  They are no longer an excuse to repaint the kitchen when the beans explode.

Following is the first thing we made.  Spaghetti meat sauce that tastes like it's been cooking all day at a slow simmer and yet it is ready in 8 minutes! Perfect for quick meals.  (We suppose one could make this in a slow cooker; we have just never tried it.)  Here's the recipe that started it for us and is still one of our very favorite Spaghetti meat sauces recipes.  Vivo Italiano (or something like that)!


1 Pound ground beef (We prefer the 97% fat free, but that's for health reasons ... the 80% is just as good.)
1 large onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water (We use 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup red wine)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp parsley flakes (2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped)
1/2 tsp Greek Oregano
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
2 tsp sugar
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste.

Heat cooker and brown meat in a tiny bit of olive oil.  Stir in remaining ingredients, except tomato paste.  Close cover and cook for eight minutes once cooker has come to high pressure.  Turn off and let pressure return to normal.  Stir in tomato paste and simmer uncovered to desired thickness.  Serve over pasta (we like the extra thin spaghetti).
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  A word to the wise here.  Buy a block of Parmesan and grate it just before using.  (You will never use that canned stuff again!)  When the rind is left, put it in a bag in the freezer and throw it in with meats or stew.  Remove before serving.  Gives a richness and depth to the flavor.

Serve with tomato, avocado and basil salad and some garlic bread sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Sunday, September 11, 2011



Elizabeth has been making this cake for 38 years and it is one of our favorites.  It's simple to make and we guarantee that it will never go stale ... it won't stay around long enough!  It's best to make this one day ahead, pour the syrup over it and then let it sit overnight.  It's worth the wait!


Preheat oven to 350° and heavily butter an 8"x8"x2" square baking pan.

1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 heaping tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 heaping tsp ground cloves
1/12 sticks sweet (unsalted) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of two medium oranges
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups broken walnuts

1 small lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 2" piece stick cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/2 cup honey

Whole walnut halves for garnish (optional)

Sift flour then add baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves.  Sift two more times onto waxed paper and set aside.

Beat softened butter with sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add orange rind and mix.  Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition.  Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition, until batter is smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into buttered baking pan.

Bake in moderate oven (350°) 35 minutes, or until center springs back when lightly pressed with finger.  Cook cake in pan on wire rack 30 minutes.  While cake is cooling, prepare Honey Syrup.


Remove rind (thin yellow, no white) from lemon.  This is best done with a vegetable peeler or zester.  Squeeze out lemon juice into a small cup (about 2 teaspoons) and set aside.  Place lemon rind, sugar, water, cinnamon stick and cloves in a heavy medium sized saucepan.  Bring to boiling, lower heat, continue to cook, without stirring 20 to 30 minutes, or until mixture is slightly syrupy.  Remove from heat and stir in honey.  Pour through a strainer and into a bowl.  Sir in reserved lemon juice.  Let sit until slightly cool.

Gradually pour or spoon cooled syrup over cake letting it soak into the cake before adding more.  Spoon into the corners and around the edges, carefully covering the entire surface.  Repeat until all the syrup is absorbed.  (If possible, let stand for 24 hours.) 

 Cut cake into 16 squares or diamonds.  Garnish each piece with a walnut half to serve, if desired.

The cake may be topped with a dab of whipped cream if desired, but is rich enough without it.  When removing the cake from the pan, be very careful, as it crumbles easily.

The cake travels very well in the pan and keeps well for several days covered with plastic wrap.