Category Archives: Travel
I’m a little late to report on my latest trials for Cook the Book Fridays. I have a reasonable excuse. I was away on a grand adventure to Mexico for a family wedding. We were staying near Cancun in Riviera Maya. It was wonderful. Other than the wedding, the highlight was visiting the ruins at Chichen Itza. We also tasted some authentic Mexican fare from the Yucatan peninsula which I’m looking forward to trying to replicate at home.
First up, I made the Comté and Ham Wafers from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. These are a savory version of slice-and-bake cookies, one of my favorite things to have on hand for nearly instant gratification. The wafers are more cheese than flour, making them very crispy and light (though not low calorie). The ham is prosciutto that is baked until crispy and then crumbled, high-end bacon bits. I used recently dried thyme from my garden rather than fresh herbs, but I think they tasted just fine.
I sliced-and-baked one log, which we nibbled alongside the evening’s cocktails –Corpse Reviver #2 – a pre-Prohibition cocktail we discovered during last year’s trip to Florida. It’s one of our favorite house cocktails now. I thought I’d freeze and save the other log for another night, but we scarfed them up. The other log is baking in the oven now.
I loved these wafers and will make them again. The type of cheese and herbs and ham (or absence of) can easily be changed for different combinations to suit your mood.
I must have made my logs thinner than intended because the recipe gives the yield as about 55 wafers and slicing at the stated ¼-inch thickness, I got about that many from each 1¼-inch diameter log.
The other recipe I made was Tabbouleh also from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. . I’m a big fan of tabbouleh, though the way I make it uses way more bulgur. This version is typical of authentic tabbouleh from Lebanon. It’s more of an herb salad. Chopped parsley and mint leaves are the main ingredients, accented with some chopped tomato and scallion. Just a touch of bulgur is added for some texture. The salad is moistened with some olive oil and lemon juice. Finally, a sprinkle of cinnamon and allspice give this a definite Lebanese spin. A touch of pomegranate molasses adds some extra tang. Years ago, I learned to add cinnamon and allspice to tabbouleh from our dear cooking friend Kathy, who was part Lebanese. Enjoying this salad for lunch, I thought of Kathy and how I miss her.
The tabbouleh was delicious, though I would enjoy it more in the summer. This time of year, I crave hot foods, not herbaceous salad.
You can find these recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. The wafers are on page 45 and the tabbouleh is on page 95. I recommend them both. If you are interested in what the other members of Cook the Book Fridays have to say about these recipes, check out links to thoughts on the wafers here and the tabbouleh here.
Here are a few shots from Mexico.
Is it still Friday? I’m sneaking my post in just under the wire… I have an excuse. I just got home last night from a two-week vacation in Southern California and spent the day doing the things you do when you get home from a trip: collecting the mail, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
I didn’t make this week’s French Fridays dish before I left, and when I woke up this morning, the cupboard was bare. It’s a good thing that this week’s selection, guacamole with tomatoes and bell peppers, was a cinch to put together.
Dorie says that the French are crazy about guacamole, though they seldom make it themselves. I can share their passion. It is so easy to make, though, that I’m not sure I’d be buying it already prepared.
Guacamole is a staple on the snack/appetizer rotation at my house. We make several different variations. The simplest is an avocado mashed up with a few generous spoonfuls of salsa. We are also partial to mango guacamole when Ataulfo mangoes are in season. A couple of years ago, Howard got a molcajete, which makes a gorgeous presentation when making guacamole from scratch (i.e. no jarred salsa).
The guacamole that Dorie makes in her French kitchen uses all the expected ingredients: avocado, lime, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and tomatoes. The surprise additions are the lime zest, diced red pepper, and a splash of hot sauce. Dorie also offers two texture options: smooth or chunky. Our usual guac is chunky, so I wanted to try out smooth for a change. The smooth version is made with a mortar and pestle, but I pulled out the molcajete. By the way, I used just one LARGE avocado but didn’t reduce any of the other ingredients.
It’s a winner! We both loved the flavor and the texture. As you can see, we ate the whole thing. (It was lunch, not just an appetizer.) Without a doubt, smooth guacamole with tomatoes and bell peppers will now be taking its turn in our guacamole rotation.
I want to share a little about my vacation because I’m unlikely to get around to an entire post about it. This was my first trip to Southern California as a tourist. Previously, I’d been for a few business trips in the not very recent past, but was never there long enough to see anything other than the airport, the office, and the hotel.
We visited Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. I would describe myself as an intense traveler, not allowing for much downtime. We made the most of our time in new places. Highlights include: Lotusland (near Santa Barbara), a unique and delightful garden created by a very eccentric woman; a vintage car show in Beverly Hills, tours of the Gamble House in Pasadena and Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and the San Diego Zoo. We were fortunate to connect with so many people. We visited with cousins, reconnected with college friends and former co-workers, and had lunch with the SoCal Doristas (sans Trevor). It was the perfect balance of visiting friends and family and taking in the sights and sites. And, now I’m happy to be home.