Salmon, Times Two


I’m a professed foodie.  I watch cooking shows.  I read cooking magazines.  I stroll through those kitchen supply stores, the kind that are harder and harder to find.  My family has a tradition of pulling-out-all-of-the-stops Friday evening meals, sampling new menus and recipes for both drink and food.

One of my favorite things to explore are appetizers.  Or hors-d’oeuvres.  Or amuse-bouches (for a randy, and amusing, definition of this word, check out definition no. 2 on Urban Dictionary).

Quite a bit of time ago, when Tyler Florence actually had a cooking show on The Food Network, I hastily scribbled down rudimentary instructions for a French classic hors-d’oeuvre, Salmon Rillettes.  Last week I pulled out my scribbles and decided to go for it for last Friday’s appetizer.  When I looked online for a little more instruction as to how to proceed, I was surprised to find Tyler Florence stating that he has too much respect for Thomas Keller and Bouchon to knock off these Salmon Rillettes (  Uh, sorry, Tyler, I watched you make these on your now-archived cooking show.


While googling about various ways to proceed, I discovered from David Lebovitz, that former Chez Panisse chef who lives and works and writes in Paris, that rillettes are a type of pate, a country-style spread, often prepared to make a rustic paste to spread on bread.  Sounds good to me.  Especially when using two types of salmon.


An 8 ounce mason jar will serve about 8 guests.  You’ll need:

2 oz. fresh salmon, lightly poached in Pernod, a la Bouchon (or substitute Absinthe, as I did).  Traditionally, it is poached in white wine.

2 oz. smoked salmon

1 T. chopped shallot

2-3 T. creme fraiche (you want the mixture to be thick, so don’t add too much).  Traditionally, mayonnaise is used.  I prefer the creme fraiche.

1 T. of your best olive oil

1 egg yolk

1 T. lemon juice (yep, forgot that in the photo)


Break up the two salmons into chunks and mix together, but don’t overmix.  You want pieces of salmon for texture.  Pack into your mason jar, and top with clarified butter, about 1/4 inch.  Though I think I poured a bit more than that!  Need a refresher for making clarified butter?


Chill for 1 hour.  While chilling, slice baguette pieces and toast.  Serve with baguettes.


The butter can be removed before serving.  In some restaurants it’s left on the table to be slathered on warm rolls that are presented.  Or, if you didn’t pour quite as much on as I did, you can eat it along with the rillette.  Ah, come on, organic butter made from milk from grass-fed cows can’t be that bad, once in a while!

Once removed, the rillettes should be eaten within 2-3 days.  The butter acts as a seal until it’s removed, much like the wax my grandmother used to seal jams.  I also read that it can be frozen and used for later.  Hmmm, I haven’t tried that yet.

And it’s Friday again.  What do I explore?  I think I see bone marrow on the menu, a la Fergus Henderson of St. John.  Lucky for me, I stumbled across this awesome restaurant while on a trip to London, before I knew how lucky I really was!

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.  It’s not just dinner.  It’s a party!

Cool, Clear, Water, A Cowboy Song

“With throats burned dry and souls that cry for water, cool, clear, water”

When I was a kid my Dad would sing in his clear tenor voice this cowboy song, Cool Water, a song recorded by Marty Robbins.  Well, today it’s the first day of Autumn, 83 degrees, 72 percent humidity, and no AC, and cool, clear water sounds lovely!  Whether straight or enhanced, it’s the perfect antidote for summer heat.

So for the past two summers I’ve been playing around with enhanced or flavored waters.  You know, those fragrant ones they hand out at a spa.  Or a cutesy restaurant.

And I thought I’d share some of my favorite flavorings.

And what do you know!  In addition to being tasty and rejuvenating, they can also be beneficial.  I’m a big fan of reverse-osmosis water.  Use whatever you usually drink.


There’s the spa-worthy cucumber, sliced thin and added to 4 cups water.  Refrigerate overnight.  CUCUMBER promotes healthy aging and can heal a hangover.  Hmmm, gotta’ remember that one!


To make the CUCUMBER water my favorite, I add some slightly bruised BASIL leaves.  BASIL is a natural stress and anxiety reducer.  This is a perfect after-work water.

IMG_2416For a sweet summery water, try a CANTALOUPE water.  The vitamins in a ripe cantaloupe promote eye health.  I added slightly bruised TARRAGON, which imparts a slight anise flavor and is an antioxidant.  This one should be consumed quickly, within 1-2 days.  The melon softens rapidly in water.


Another flavorful summery melon variation is WATERMELON water.  WATERMELON is the highest fruit or vege in lycopene, plus it has an abundance of other vitamins and minerals including Magnesium.  As a melon, it will also soften rapidly in water.  I added some punch to my WATERMELON water by infusing it with ROSEMARY, which is anti-inflammatory and an immune booster.


A new water for me this summer was PINEAPPLE-MINT water.  What a refreshing combination!  A little sweet.  A little minty.  PINEAPPLE has a mixture of enzymes called bromelain that digest protein, has  anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants which prevent free radical damage.  MINT is a well-documented aid in digestion, nausea, and headache.  Refrigerate this one overnight.

A super-pretty water is RASPBERRY – SAGE.  The berries are sweet/tart, and the fragrance of the sage is awesome.  RASPBERRIES are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  SAGE, part of the mint family like ROSEMARY and BASIL, is a herb with one of the highest antioxidant levels, helping cell’s recover from damage.  Drink this one within 1-2 days.


As with most fresh-fruit-or-vege-infused drinks, the fruits and/or veges used are generally not very good after infusing the waters.  Just add them to your compost.  So cool down these last summer days with your own yummy and beneficial flavored waters.

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.  It’s not just dinner.  It’s a party!

Smokin’ Hot Hatch Chiles

IMG_2590One of my favorite memories is traveling with my Dad from Texas to college in California, and making a stop in New Mexico for some of their not-to-be-missed dishes prepared with Hatch Chiles.  Yum!

As described in Wikipedia:

“Chile grown in the Hatch Valley, in and around Hatch, New Mexico is called Hatch chile. The peppers grown in the valley, and along the entire Rio Grande, from northern Taos Pueblo to southern Isleta Pueblo, are a signature crop to New Mexico’s economy and culture.[1][2] The chile pepper actually is a fruit, however, it is savory and eaten like a vegetable in a main dish or side. It is New Mexico’s state vegetable, and the official New Mexico state question is “Red or Green?”.[3]”

So I’m thrilled every August when they show up in one of my local markets.


Last night half of my Hatch Chiles were roasted under the broiler and added to a pizza which included:

  • a whole wheat & chia crust I put together last week
  • Jarred marinara sprinkled with smoked paprika
  • crispy bacon
  • caramalized onions with a little basalmic
  • a selection of shredded mexican cheeses
  • garlic oil-infused garbanzo beans



Spicy, smoky, garlicy, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions, with a thin and crunchy crust.

Oh, yes, I love Hatch Chile season!

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.

Creamy Korma Curry


Yes, I do make the dinner kits I sell! My honey and I have a Supper Club that explores the world through food. Last Saturday night was Passage to India, a great selection of northern Indian foods. I contributed my Lamb Korma Curry, creamy and spicy.

We at Passport Dinners buy the exotic and fragrant organic spices for you so you don’t have to.

IMG_2525There’s all those great, fragrant organic spices plus my local, sustainable fresh ingredients.

Supper club, here we come!

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.

1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila, Floor!

IMG_2521(1)Not only is it Friday, it’s also National Tequila Day.  And you know what that means.  No, not shots!  I want to enjoy my Saturday!  It’s summertime, hot and humid, and I’m ready for a cold margarita.

Fresh lime juice.  The only way to go.  Roll the lime on the counter before cutting and juicing to release more juices.

IMG_2513And a better tequila.  I prefer Carralejo Reposado, plus the bottle is beautiful!

IMG_2516(1)And simple syrup.  You can buy it at better liquor stores, but why not make your own?  One part sugar to one part water, heated and simmered for about 5 minutes until the sugar is totally incorporated.  I use cane sugar, which gives a darker-hued simple syrup.  You can use white sugar.

And some sort of orange liqueur.  Today I’m using Potter’s Orange Curacao (cure-ah-sah-o). Top it off with a splash, or so, of Grand Marnier and a lime slice.IMG_2519Summer-y Fresh Lime Margarita

  • 1 part fresh lime juice (1 oz.)
  • 2 parts tequila (2 oz.)
  • 1/2 part Curacao (1/2 oz.)
  • 1/2+ part simple syrup (1/2+ oz.) (sweeten to your taste)

Shake with ice, strain into a glass dipped in curacao and rimmed with, preferably, margarita salt (I use a pink grapefruit salt sprinkled with fresh lime zest).IMG_2514Pour a splash, or two, or Grand Marnier on top to float, then garnish with a fresh lime slice.  Sip.  Repeat.  Let the weekend begin!

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.

Happy Bastille Day


Yes, I know Bastille Day was last week.  Oooh, my not-cooperating software!  But good food can always be posted, right?

Because we are lovers of fine food and wine, and freedom, my family cannot let Bastille Day pass by without a little celebration.  A repressed people fighting for human rights is at the core of what we in America can appreciate.

As I read on the website, the government of France in the 1700’s controlled bread and salt, two staples in the typical French diet.  Rising taxes on these two items led to the rise in the working person’s anger against the French monarchy.

As J. Michael Straczynski, an American writer and producer says, “No dictator, no invader, can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand.”

Who cares if it was only a Tuesday?

I love making crepes, and the typical buckwheat crepe, or galette, is perfect for a french crepe.  I’m using a variation of David Lebovitz’ classic french galette recipe

Buckwheat is one of those nutritious super-flours.  It is a bit starchier than quinoa, but like quinoa it is high in protein and amino acids.  It is naturally gluten free due to the fact that it is a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel, rather than a grain.  It also is very attractive to honeybees who create a deep, fragrant honey from the buckwheat flowers.

This time, I’m using a little less of the buckwheat flour and a bit more organic unbleached flour for a bit more pliable and elegant crepe.  Last year, though tasty, the full-buckwheat crepes were not too pliable (  Add a little raw cane sugar, a pinch of salt, and a cup of whole milk well-mixed with melted butter and 2 farm-fresh eggs.

Bastille crepe ingredientsI chill the mixture a bit before swirling it into my well-seasoned crepe pan.

Bastille crepe #2I went with the classic Crepes avec Jambon, crepes with ham, asparagus (lightly steamed, then tossed in a skillet with butter), drizzled with a mornay sauce.

Bastille crepe fillingsBastille crepe assemblyWe had a nice start to the meal with toasted baguettes, Foie de Volaille (chicken), and cornichons with, of course, a smooth glass of Cotes-du-Rhone.

Bastille pate & cornichons

Ah, the main event:  Our finished crepe with a petite salad topped with toasted goat cheese.  Cheers ’til next year.

Bastille crepe dinner

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.

Farm-to-Table and Greenwashing

“Farm to Fable: Deception, Fraud, and Honest Mistakes in the Farm-to-Table Movement”

image_1I knew that the big chain restaurants were getting on the bandwagon and “greenwashing” their menus by using farm-to-table descriptions. But I never dreamed that small, local restaurants were doing the same thing.  My eyes were really opened by the following article in San Diego Magazine, July 2015.

Have you come across this problem? How would you try to ensure the menu item you’ve ordered is as the menu describes?  And is it that important to you?

Passport Dinners brings you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) themed adventure dinner party kits for you to taste the world, one country at a time.