Saturday, June 13, 2015


It's time to Blog again. My latest book MY BEST LIFE, launched this spring and I want to share some of it with friends, foodies, and historians, who also believe four-legged furries have souls. MY BEST LIFE is the autobiography of Sakie, an eighteen year old historian and food aficionado, who just happens to be a cat. In detail that is both humorous and poignant, she describes her present life as a cat with an American family and the three other lives she remembers. The big white dog has been a part of her other life when they traveled together as the pair of good fortune to the Indian tribe. Cats she meet along the way tell of their past existences as protagonists that saved civilization. Sakie's first life was as the revered mau of Ramses II favorite daughter. There is the cat that remembers her life as the pampered feline of Marie Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale, and the terror of the French Revolution. Blackie tells his story of how he saved Siena from the bubonic plague. And, the handsome SAR cat, Tabby, describes how he was responsible for winning the battle that changed the tide of the American Revolution and freed us from the wicked king of England. In her dreams, Sakie leads the army of cats on the Spanish Armada and jumps into a mirror with the Cheshire cat for an adventure in Wonderland. And, in real life, she visits the eclectic SoBe area in Miami Beach and finds an old cat that remembers South Beach. Her life changes when she moves upstate to a small town in central Florida and discovers the magnificent St. John's River. And, the interloper mutt that wrangled his way into her home and tried to take her place, brings real life humor and drama into the book. Each adventure is followed by recipes of the times and regions to create a combined novel-cookbook. This is a book to enjoy, in and out of the kitchen.

(From MY BEST LIFE - Archway Publishing from Simon Schuster)

Kentucky Derby Favorite Foods

Kentucky cuisine centers around old fashioned, mouth watering southern style cooking: Fried chicken with cream gravy over mashed ‘taters with buttermilk biscuits, Catfish and Frog Legs fried in cornmeal batter with hush puppies, Burgoo Stew with meat and veggies, and, of course, the breakfast favorite Biscuits and Cream Gravy thick with breakfast sausage. Although Mint Juleps are the sacred tradition of the Derby, you won’t be ostracized if you order ice tea, as long as it’s Sweet Tea.

Yield: to fill 12 shells
Purchase a box of Old El Paso® Crunchy Taco Shells and Soft Tortillas (6 each)
1 pound lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Fresno chili peppers (or of choice), minced
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ¼ cup (10 ounce can Campbell’s®) beef broth
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Package 8 ounces Mexican chopped 4-cheeses
Optional: Sliced black olives

1.      Put the ground beef in a heavy bottom pot and cook it in its own fat over medium heat until slightly brown, breaking it up as it cooks. Discard any excess fat.
2.      Add the garlic, chili peppers and onion and stir to combine. Stir in the cumin. Stir in the tomato paste and lemon juice.
3.      Stir in the beef broth, ¼ cup at a time, as sauce thickens.
4.      Bring to the bubbly stage, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring often, until sauce is thick. (10 minutes)
5.      Remove from the heat. Stir in the diced tomatoes. Allow sauce to stand 30 minutes or longer. Taste for seasoning. Reheat.
6.      Heat the tacos and tortillas according to package directions. Place a large spoonful of the sauce into each. Top with the shredded lettuce, chopped cheese and olives.

Yield: 8 juleps

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
12 or more tender mint leaves
Cracked or crushed ice
12 ounces Bourbon (or more to taste)
8 silver julep cups or hi-ball glassses

1.      Make simple sugar syrup: Heat the water. Stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Refrigerate until cold or overnight.
2.      Place cups or glasses into the freezer 30 minutes to frost.
3.      Pour the sugar syrup into a glass or silver pitcher.
4.      Add the mint leaves. With a muddler or back of a long spoon, bruise the mint gently, blending it into the syrup by stirring and pressing. Do not crush the leaves, because they will release bitter juice.
5.      Pack the pitcher with cracked or crushed ice. Add the bourbon and swirl gently with a spoon, bringing the mint leaves up to the top.
6.      Pour into individual cups or hi-ball glasses. Insert a straw and garnish with fresh mint.

Yield: Contents below make 1 drink.  Multiply for more.

1½ ounces tequila
½ ounce triple sec liqueur
3 ounces sour mix (For 4 drinks, combine 1¼ cup sugar with 1¼ cup hot water until sugar is completely dissolved. Add 1¼ cup fresh lime juice and 1¼ cup fresh lemon juice and refrigerate.
Lime wedge to garnish
Salt or sugar to rim the glass
Margarita or martini glasses

1.      Chill the Margarita glasses in the freezer.
2.      Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice cubes and shake well.
3.      Pour salt or sugar or both into a bowl. Turn each glass upside down into the salt to coat the rim. (They should be moist from the freezer. If not, turn upside down into cold water before coating with the salt)
4.      Pour the drink with its ice into the glass. Garnish with lime.

sandwich bread, topped with another slice of bread. Cut into finger sandwiches.


6-10 inch flour tortillas
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced (peaches work during season)
1 poblano pepper, seeded and minced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat grill for medium heat.
1.      Spread half of the tortillas with about 2 tablespoons cream cheese each. Sprinkle mango and poblano peppers over cheese, and press another tortilla on top. Brush butter over the outside of each quesadilla, top and bottom.
2.      Grill quesadillas 5 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Remove from grill, and slice into wedges. Serve warm.

Derby Pie™, a trademark dessert of Louisville's Kerns Bakery, is sinfully rich and delicious, filled with chocolate chips and pecans. The pie has long been a tradition enjoyed on Kentucky Derby Day, the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie
Kentucky bourbon chocolate walnut pie is traditionally served at the annual Kentucky Derby Horse race. This pie recipe is similar to the Melrose Inn's famous version which has been served at the race for over 50 years. The name "Derby Pie" is trademarked, and the owners of the name are very aggressive protecting the name "Derby Pie."
 This recipe is so simple!

½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ready-made piecrust
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and butter. Mix to combine. Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture into the unbaked piecrust. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. 

Hot Pepper Jelly with Lime and Garlic

I was asked to develop a recipe for HOT PEPPER JELLY because Hot-Hot-Hot to spread over cream cheese and brie cheese for an hors d'oeuvre could not be found in the stores. I Googled dozens of recipes, all that offered instructions that were adverse to my marmalade successes. They said to cook the hot peppers with sugar and then add either liquid or powdered pectin. No-No-No! The jelly didn't jell, and I had to label it "HOT PEPPER SAUCE". So, I shredded all the recipes from the net and developed my own. It is fabulous! Only problem is that my throat is still burning from breathing in the fumes. So, if you make it, wear latex (or latex-free) gloves to protect your hands and Dark Glasses to keep your eyes from tearing. And, here it is: The Champion of Champions HOT PEPPER JELLY WITH LIME AND GARLIC. Sorry, it is not in any of my cookbooks. Maybe next time!!

Yield: 6 half pint jars

2 cups minced combination hot peppers, such as Jalapeño, Habanero, Anaheim, Cubanelle, Rocotillo, Serrano, Poblano, or/and even the hottest Carolina Reaper

A large red bell pepper

Large garlic clove

Handful fresh mint leaves

1½ cups white vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

7 cups granulated sugar

1 packet SureJell® pectin (1.75 ounces)

Optional: a drop or two red food coloring

Plastic gloves

Dark glasses


1.       Purchase a mixture of peppers, depending on how hot you like the jelly. Some stores will have them labeled by degree of heat. Check the recipe index for a list of peppers.

2.       Put on gloves and glasses to protect your skin and eyes.

3.       Slice the peppers. Remove the stems. Remove the seeds from the bell peppers but not from the hot peppers.

4.       Peel and slice the garlic.

5.       Remove peppers and garlic to a food processor. Add the mint leaves and 1 cup of the sugar. Grind the mixture and remove to a large pot. Add the vinegar, lime and orange juices.

6.       Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover and allow it to stand 15 minutes.

7.       Strain all but ½ cup so there will be some seeds in the finished jelly. Return to the pot.

8.       Add food coloring if desired. Bring to a boil and stir in the SureJell®. When it returns to a boil, add the sugar all at once. Boil hard, stirring, 1 minute only.

9.       Fill sterilized jars according to directions.

Note: For super-hot jelly, go heavy on Habanero chilies