Tag Archives: flat leaf parsley

Nothing Wise About Wisdom Teeth!

James and I FINALLY went for his wisdom teeth consultation.  It could not have been easier or more stress free!  The surgery date was set for after New Year’s.  Made me think of the last time I had teeth taken out.  I had gotten into my head that as an adult I wanted braces.  My now dentist AND employer was, 22 years ago, Pamela’s boyfriend and my dentist.  Shortly there after he became Pamela’s husband.  We’ve all only had two dentists in our whole lives.  Dr. Schloss, Chris’ father, and Chris.  We loved his father!!  That man was SO nice!  AND he had mouthwash!  Coming from a household with NO sweets that big doins’!  He passed away while I was in college and shortly after, Chris graduated and started his own practice.  A few years later I told him at one of my appointments I wanted braces.  “What?  You don’t need braces!  You have beautiful teeth!  Don’t do it.  Leave it alone.”  But nooooo, I had this idea in my head, and, well, had to have ’em.  He gave me the name of a colleague and off I went to my consult.  Turned out to be a really good guy!!  He did, however, tell me I would have to have my four perfectly healthy premolars extracted and if was going to do that I might as well have that last wisdom tooth yanked.  I told Chris.  He was NOT happy.  “Your teeth are great.  They’re fine.  What if you need those teeth later on in life?  What if in your eighties you need a bridge and you need one of those teeth to anchor it?”  Hellooooo.  First of all can’t you count?  I have forty or fifty more perfect teeth in my mouth and second, I’m in my 20’s, I ain’t never gonna turn 80!  What, are you crazy??  Jeez.  So the date was set with the oral surgeon to extract absolutely perfect teeth.  I had never had cavities or anything!  It was a couple of months after our wedding…James wasn’t even a sparkle in his Daddy’s eye!!!  All I remember about the day I had the teeth out is getting home from the surgery, changing into comfortable sleep clothes and falling into bed.  I woke up I don’t know how long later and my mouth was throbbing…killing me.  I took a pain pill and fell back into a fitful sleep.  A little while later I woke up in worse pain.  I looked at the bottle of pain pills.  It said “Take as needed for pain.”  Well.  I’m in pain.  I took another.  This was quickly becoming awful.   I swallowed as best I could whatever it was for pain and tried to nap.  Why were these pills not working???  I took another.  I spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between trying to sleep and trying to kill the pain with whatever they had given me.  That was probably not a good plan.  Late afternoon I awoke not only to excruciating pain in my mouth but now I had a fire in my tummy.  In a semiconscious tangle I stumbled into the bathroom and got sick.  I was dying.  I called Pamela in a panic, “I don’t know what to do!!  My mouth is killing me, I’m puking, and now I’m bleeding!!  I can’t do this!!”  “Don’t worry, YaYa!”, she said,  “I’m on my way!”  The burning fire in my belly was roaring and I had never felt such pain as that which was in my mouth.  I ripped off my pajama pants and lay on the bed under the ceiling fan with a t-shirt on trying to cool off and contain the rivulets of perspiration running off my face and down my neck.  I heard the kitchen door open.  It was Pamela.  She came bursting into the room with Chris, DR. SCHLOSS!  He had immediately left his office and met her here when she called saying that there was an emergency, “Well, she’s bleeding and vomiting!!  It’s serious!!”.  He tilted my head back to examine the extraction sites and his eyes fell on the bottle of pain pills.    Gently putting my head back, he picked up the bottle and read the directions.  There were only a couple of pills left, rattling around on the bottom of the plastic bottle.  It quickly got really quiet in the room.   I felt self-conscious.  I realized I was scantily clad with only a tiny, pale yellow t-shirt on and skimpy bikini panties the size of dental floss.  And this was my dentist AND PAMELA’S FUTURE HUSBAND.   He didn’t even look at me.  He was there out of concern for one of his patients.  And I was wasting his precious time.  He threw the bottle down and disgustedly said to Pamela, “Tell her to quit taking this crap!”.   And that’s the story of when I OD’d.  He never talked about it.  Never mentioned it.  Not even today.  But Pamela and I still laugh about  it.  “Well, you were in pain!”, she’ll say and we’ll scream with peals of laughter!!  And then she’ll say, ””Well, it was an emergency!!”  More screaming!!  Then I’ll say to her, “How could you let me be seen with only a t-shirt on and panties??” and she’ll reply, “IT WAS AN EMERGENCY.”  And to this day he’s never made fun of me or made an off colored remark.  Ya gotta love him!  He’s just the best!!

This is a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup if served warm or Vichyssoise if served cold.  Either way it’s silky, smooth paradise.  It’s easy and fast but do know, it does not freeze well.  And it’s pretty.  It’s the perfect dish served cold for all those college students getting their wisdoms taken out.  Enjoy!

Leek and Potato Soup

yield: one large pot

  • 8 leeks
  • 1/4 cup butter or good olive oil.  (I use olive oil.)
  • 6 red skinned boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, washed and rough chopped
  • 10 cups water or chicken stock, a mixture of both is fine
  • salt to taste

  1. Leeks can be really, really dirty… sandy.  You don’t want grit in your soup. So.  Cut off the tough, dark green  tops of the leeks and set aside for vegetable stock or discard.
  2. Without cutting through the root end, cut lengthwise from the base of the leek through the end.
  3. Rinse well under running water, separating the leaves to get out any lurking grit.  Continue with all the leeks.
  4. Drain and, holding the root, slice from the green end all the way to the root end.  Discard the root and slice all the leeks.
  5. Rinse sliced leeks under water using a colander.
  6. On medium-low heat butter or olive oil in a soup pot and toss in leeks.  Take care not to brown just clarify.
  7. Add sliced potatoes, parsley and water or stock.
  8. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, maybe half an hour.
  9. Puree until smooth using food processor, blender or immersion blender.  I use an immersion blender.  I love it!
  10. Taste for salt and serve.

Baked Orzo with Lemon, Shrimp and Feta

It’s April and coming up on First Communion time at Saint Anthony church, the Catholic church where I grew up, heck, where we all grew up.  Tommy and Pamela were baptized there, all four of us made our First Communions there and Cynthia and Pamela were married there.  As an adult I discovered the beauty of Sunday’s 7:30 a.m. mass.  No organ playing, (I can’t stand organ music), no shrieking children’s choir, but more importantly, blessed anonymity.  There’s nothing worse than going to that cocktail party called “10:30 Mass”, looking out at your fellow parishioners and thinking, “Jesus H. Christ.  What does she have on?  I mean really.  Don’t tell me she looked in the mirror  and thought, “Now this is the look I want.  I am ready now.”.  That little voice inside me scolds, “What are you doing? You are in the house of the Lord.  Of our Lord.  Stop it.”  Back and forth it goes, so it’s really best if I go to the 7:30 service.  I stand in the very back… I lean against the confessionals and take in the cool quiet, the beautiful wood of the beamed ceiling and the sun streaming through the original stained glass windows, colors dancing and splashing onto terrazzo floors.  I think, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 12 years since my last confession.  Hope you packed a lunch.”.  Those same confessional doors were there when I made my First Communion.

Dad would take Cynthia and me to confession every Friday night, around five or six.  And, sometimes after confessing, IF we had had dinner, he would take us down to the beach to a little shack where they would make fresh, hot waffles from a little machine.  Then, with a practiced hand, cut off a big slab of Neapolitan ice cream and sandwich it between the steaming hot waffles.  Heaven.  We’d always take his car, an Austin Healy, with the top down, and park in front of the church’s double doors where he would wait patiently until we came out.  Cynthia was eight and I was six.  Right after my First Communion I went on a typical Friday night to confession,  stood in line outside the confessionals, and then, when it was my turn, went in, and knelt down.  A little muslin panel was pulled across a window so only a blurry profile was seen.  I began, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It has been one week since my last confession.  And my sins are…”  I can only imagine what my sins were since I was only six.  I didn’t even steal change out of my mother’s purse.  What,  I talked back when it was my turn to set the table?  I didn’t make my bed?  I called somebody the positively worst word I knew… SKUNK?  Whatever my sins were, I confessed.  I knew I had been stained by original sin, thanks to Adam and Eve, but I never dreamed I had committed mortal sin.  I didn’t really feel it was just to throw me into the venial category either.  But that was the first time I felt the skies had parted and God’s wrath had been hurled down directly at me.  That man, that priest, whoever he was, bellowed from the other side of the curtain, “YOU WHAT?  YOU HAVE SINNED!  YOU ARE A SINNER AND YOU HAVE SINNED!”.  The huge, thunderous voice rained down on me until I drowned in absolute terror.  No one had ever raised their voice at me, at us.  Not my parents, not a teacher, grandparents, neighbor, no one.  I wanted to be an angel.  I wanted to be holy.  I was six.  Six.  I just crumbled.  Huge, hot and uncontrollable tears spilled over.  I slipped out of the confessional, didn’t even say my penance, and ran from the church.  Cynthia was already in the car.  She wasn’t much of a sinner so it didn’t take her very long.  I don’t remember if I told my parents, but it shook me through and through.  And, sadly, at that age, adults are always right, even when they’re wrong.  The days rolled by and, once again, it was Friday, confession time.  Cynthia hopped out of the car, brightly announcing, “I’ll be right back”.  Yeah, we know.  I didn’t get out of the car.  My father asked, “Aren’t you going in?”.  “No”, I answered.  “Why not?”  “I don’t want to.”  “Okay.”  Okay.  That’s all he said.  Okay.  Gotta love that man.  Week after week Daddy took us to confession and I stayed in the car.  Then one Friday, Dad asked, “You going in?”  Opening the door and answering at the same time I replied, “Yup.”  I strolled right into St. Anthony’s and stood in line outside the confessionals. When it was my turn, I went into the confessional.  And guess what??  Nothing happened.  One Act of Contrition, two Hail Mary’s and an Our Father later, I had a brand new soul!  AND…a waffle and ice cream sandwich.


This is the dinner I would have liked to have had on a Friday night instead of Mama’s hour-long baked fish.  It is so light and savory, the flavors compliment each other well yet surprise with their lingering tones.  The dish is quite flexible, any small shaped pasta works great.  There is a little chopping, but, hey, you will be rewarded handsomely with clever and discerning compliments and your family will love you even more.  In place of shrimp you could use scallops or squid rings.  And goat cheese or any soft, crumbling cheese that marries with the acid of the lemon and tomato could be put to use rather than feta.  It’s what you like.  It’s a pretty dish and works well for a buffet or to serve a large number of people.  The lemon, fresh oregano and feta are insanely good together but if you wanted to dress the dish up a bit, a splash or two of Armagnac or ouzo will do the trick, added when you mix the tomatoes into the sauce.  I have to confess, it’s truly superb!



Baked Orzo with Lemon, Shrimp and Feta Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 pound small shaped pasta, such as orzo
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups crumbled feta, crumble it yourself.  Don’t buy that already crumbled garbage.  Really.
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, rough chopped with juices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil for your pasta and cook pasta to box directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks and adding the feta last, add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine.  Add the feta, lightly mixing so as not to completely break up the cheese.
  3. When the pasta is al dente, drain and put back into pot.  Add all the ingredients from the bowl.  Stir to combine.
  4. Pour into a baking dish prepared with non stick spray.  I use a 4-quart or 11″ X 13″ baking dish.
  5. Spray a large piece of tin foil with non-stick spray and cover baking dish tightly, crimping edges and corners to keep the moisture in.
  6. Bake 30-45 minutes.


Greek Stuffed Peppers

Jimmy was 24 years old the first time he went to Greece.  It was the 1973.  He went with his childhood friend, Peter.  Remember?  Jimmy’s mama and Mrs. Scarlatos, Peter’s mama, used to pick greens together on the side of the road in Boston?  You remember.  Anyway, Peter and Jimmy had gone to Greece together and were on the island of Paros.  There they were, with a bunch of their friends from Boston AND girls.  They were having a blast.  They hiked to ruins, then at night, would descend upon tavernas, welcomed and embraced warmly by the locals who treated them as the long, lost greek children they truly were.  They hung out on the beaches, talking, laughing, enjoying that ultimate luxury, the casual passing of time during a long, hot summer.  And GIRLS.  Jimmy tried not to think of the side trip he had to make.  While all the other kids were playing and having the times of their lives, HE had to go to Moria, his family’s ancestral village, on the island of Lesvos.  Moria.  What he knew would be a rinky-dink town, some outpost of nowhere, Mr.  Alighieri’s Fifth Hell.  Kill me now.  He was not happy.  Resigned and defeated, Jimmy left the good time on Paros, boarded the over-night ferry and arrived at the port of Mytilini the following morning.  He made the hour long trip to Moria on a tired, dilapidated, old bus and arrived mid-morning, hot and sweaty, sporting long hair, an unruly beard and an all-around generic american hippie look.  Not pretty.  Keep in mind, he’s from Boston.  Looks don’t count.  He walked through the village, trying to recognize houses and landmarks from the many years of stories told by his mother.  Outside an ordinary house, he saw an older woman bent over sweeping her courtyard, clouds of hot dust swirling about her, she oblivious to the heat, wearing the requisite long black dress and head modestly covered with a scarf.  He approached her, politely asking, “Signome…,” “Pardon…”, but before he could continue she whirled about with a fiercely protective scowl on her face and replied, “OHI!”  “NO!”  “Go away, tourist!  Go away!” and waved her broom at him, making it perfectly clear, one more step and you’ll be feeling this broom, Yankee fool.  She was not to be trifled with.  Throwing his arms up to protect his head and face he screamed, “Ohi! Ohi, Thea Vasiliki!  Paragalo!  Eimai Dimitri, o anipsios apo tyn Ameriki!” “No, no, Aunt Vasiliki!  Please!  I’m Dimitri, your nephew from America!”  WELL.  That poor woman threw her broom in the air, ran to Jimmy and flung herself on his hippie self, crying and laughing, all the while frantically making the sign of the cross, over and over.  She welcomed him into the house where he sat down.  She knelt down before him and began untying his hiking boots.  “Thea, what are you doing?  Get up.  You don’t need to do that.”  And she replied with a little more than a bit of defiance in her voice, “I took your brother Peter’s shoes off.  I took your brother George’s shoes off.  I WILL take your shoes off.”  It was a wonderful two days.  Jimmy assured her over and over that her sister, so, so far away from her family and homeland, was fine.  His cousin, Dimitri, had a motorcycle and showed Jimmy the island, up to the mountains and back down to the beaches.  Cousin Dimitri showed Hippie Dimitri the ancient, Roman aqueduct which sat on the outskirts of the family property, and the horio, the village, with all its hiding places and secret spots.  Cousin Dimitri threw out the challenge, “I hear all Americans drink ouzo with water.”  Jimmy replied, “I don’t.”  Cousin Dimitri said, “I hear all Americans drink ouzo with ice.”  “I don’t”, again Jimmy answered.  Challenge met, they became the best of friends, the best of brothers.  Together they tried  the different kinds of ouzo, all the while, Thea Vasiliki cooked and baked her heart out.  I can’t say this enough, but it’s ALL about family.

This was one of the dishes prepared by Thea Vasiliki, typically Greek, unpretentious and incredibly savory.  Yemistes, stuffed vegetables.  It is an extremely easy and forgiving dish.  You can stuff tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, onions…anything that will hold stuffing.  And you can stuff as many or as few as you’d like.  The filling is also extremely versatile.  Brown or white rice can be used.  Ground lamb or ground beef, or no meat.  It’s all good.  I add shredded zucchini  sometimes or use zucchini wedges in between the vegetables to keep them from toppling on their sides.  Typically, potato wedges are used to keep the stuffed vegetables upright, but as I’m desperately trying to hang on to the last vestiges of my girlish figure I have to stick a lower carb leveling utensil.  The herbs used in the stuffing, again, may be substituted to fit your tastes or mood.  Fresh dill, mint and flat-leafed parsley are usually my choice but fresh thyme, rosemary or marjoram are also wonderful.  If you find fresh marjoram and have never tried it, pick it up.  Try it.  It tastes like perfume in an herb.  I’m crazy about it.  Today I used a small package of ground lamb.  Lamb is great, because it’s so flavorful you don’t need much to get that “meat heft” and flavor in your dish.  Oh, and a great way to stretch this is to buy large vegetables and cut them in half lengthwise to stuff.  The Greeks are crazy about these stainless steel round baking dishes, shown in the photograph above.  They come in varying diameters but the height is typically 2 1/2 inches high.  They’re used not only for yemiste, stuffed vegetables, but also spinach pie, baklava, and most dishes requiring phyllo dough.  Jimmy always gets irritated with me when we go to the Greek market because I always want to buy another one.  I have two now.  One medium in size and the other monstrous.  Great for parties.  But I feel you can never have too many.  I’ll let you know when he springs for another.



Greek Stuffed Vegetables

  • Servings: 4 large peppers and 8 tomatoes
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 pound ground lamb, browned and drained
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch mint, leaves chopped
  • 1 large bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 4 cups short grain, brown rice, or rice of your choice, cooked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large peppers or as many as you’d like
  • 8 tomatoes or as many as you’d like
  • 3 or 4 zucchini cut into wedges or 1 or 2 potatoes if you’d rather, none it your vegetables fit snugly into their baking dish

Cousin Dimitri with Hippie Dimitri, still drinking ouzo!

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Add onion to same pan as cooked, drained ground lamb, stirring, cook onion until clear.
  3. Add garlic and herbs, stirring all the while.
  4. When herbs have wilted, add rice and salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Cut tops off of peppers, set aside, and cut ribs and seeds and discard.
  6. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and set aside.  With a thin spoon, I use a soup spoon, scoop out insides of tomatoes being careful not to poke a hole through the flesh.  Set the innards aside and if it looks as though you won’t have sufficient filling, chop up the tomato cores and add to stuffing to stretch it out.  Just see how it goes.
  7. Spray non-stick spray to baking dish and spoon filling into vegetables, placing upright in baking dish.  Now’s the time for the zucchini or potato wedges.  Tuck them where needed to keep your fruits of labor from toppling over and spilling their filling.
  8. For tomatoes and peppers, add the tops previously cut off.
  9. Carefully, add water to bottom of baking dish, maybe 1/2 to 1 inch.
  10. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for a good hour, hour and a half.  Drop temperature to 350° if your oven is too hot.  Vegetables are done when tender.


Tabbouleh, a salad girl’s favorite

Here in sunny South Florida, tabbouleh is a salad prepared over and over when the temperature rises.  It’s a year round, go to salad that is light and refreshing but with bulgur wheat as one of its main ingredients it’s substantial enough to act as a side AND as a vegetable.  I make mine more Middle Eastern, that is with more parsley and mint than cracked wheat. Lots more. Lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and tomatoes unite the dish making it a tangy, garlicky joy. This salad is inexpensive and keeps well. We have it often with grilled chicken and fish.  Last night we had it with grilled yellow fin tuna and it was fabulous. It pairs well with heavy meats, for instance lamb; the tartness of the lemons, tomatoes and parsley cutting through the richness.  It can be served as an appetizer with toasted pita triangles to scoop it up and also as a sandwich stuffed in a halved pita.  And last but not least, it’s pretty.  Looks good, tastes good..it’s a win-win!


  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 heaping cup fine bulgur
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil
  • 2 bunches fresh mint, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 or 3 large bunches flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 5 scallions, chopped using green tops
  • 4 or 5 large garlic cloves, minced.  I use a rasper.
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
  1. Combine bulgur, water, lemon juice and half the olive oil in a large, non-reactive bowl, I use glass.  Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Cover and let sit another 30 minutes until the flavors marry.