Tag Archives: olive oil

Olive Oil Cake at the Greek Table

The 2018 Saint Demetrios  Greek Festival is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited.  I am one of the thousands who love this church’s festival because of it’s authenticity…baked goods and Greek dishes prepared from old family recipes which over the years have been converted to feed the hordes of festival goers.  Whether in Crete, the mainland or the islands, these festival dishes are the foods you find in the Greek home.  The Greek table is a marvel regardless of lean times or times of ease and plenty.  Every time I’ve been to Greece, I’ve discovered new foods or a completely new spin on an old dish.  Of course, we all know feta cheese; briny and tangy sitting atop a Greek salad wearing a green and gold crown of locally grown oregano or still salty but now creamy tucked between several buttery sheets of shatteringly crisp filo dough married with spinach and sliced spring onion having been baked to perfection.  How surprised I was when I was introduced to a typical appetizer, Feta Psiti, which is baked feta cheese topped with a good shower of hot pepper flakes and local oregano then doused with a liberal splash of fruity Greek olive oil!  I had never had anything like that here in the States.  My husband’s Greek family looked on with amusement as I dove in with abandon scooping up the melted cheese with torn off chunks of hot, crunchy bread.  At another family gathering around the table, I thought I had found my new favorite food when my husband’s cousin served me Koukia, a gorgeous, creamy dish made from yellow split peas which have cooked down to a smooth, firm dip.  Considered a salad, this dish is topped with Greek olive oil, chopped red onion, and a good dusting of oregano and I’m more than happy to call this dinner.  My husband’s cousin was thrilled to have presented me with this humble yet unexpected treasure.  The Greek table is like that.  Always gathering one in, never shutting one out.  “Come!  Have coffee at my house and we’ll talk.  I baked a cake”,  is heard so often all through Greece.  When you hear that, you ought to take them up on the offer for Greek coffee and baked goods are beyond delicious and the Greek table is where you’ll hear all the good village gossip.  The following Greek olive oil cake is a recipe found throughout the country of Greece.  Each recipe is slightly different…some add Greek yoghurt, liquors, orange or lemon but all are lovely and will bring you to the Greek table.

Dense, moist and velvety, this cake is an unlikely wonder touched with tones of orange, lemon, almond, and of course, green, fruity olive oil.  Olive oil cake is a classic throughout Greece and once you have a taste you’ll know why.  Somehow it works…all the flavors sing in perfect harmony.  It’s a rather substantial cake so don’t be alarmed at the large amount of olive oil called for nor the fact that the batter will be rather runny.  It will be gorgeous.  And it’s a great do-ahead as the flavor improves the following day.  Kali orexi!


Greek Olive Oil Cake

  • Servings: 12-14
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin Greek olive oil, Trader Joe’s makes a decent one
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, I’ve used almond milk and the cake turned out fabulous
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange liquor
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup finely, finely chopped sliced almonds.  I use a mini-processor and pulse the nuts until they are small bits.


  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one lime
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Butter an 11-inch cake pan and set aside.
  2. Into a medium-sized bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix well the eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, lemon juice, liquor, lemon and orange zest and almond bits.  Mix well until there are no lumps of sugar and the olive oil is completely incorporated.
  4. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well blended, pour  into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a plate.
  7. Allow to cool completely prior to icing the cake.  If the cake is to be served the following day, prepare and drizzle the glaze right before serving.


  1. Combine all ingredients except the lemon and lime zest in a small bowl and whisk until smooth
  2. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon and lime zest and serve.





100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti


Winter in Florida means citrus…jacked up citrus.  It’s the season for heavy with juice, dimple skinned, brilliantly colored oranges, lemons, limes and kumquats all begging to be juiced, baked or eaten out of hand.  I had a hankering for a crunchy dunking cookie and this is the end result.  I debated whether to drizzle a little icing or dark chocolate over the tops, both go so well with orange, but I opted for neither and went for a more European, unadorned cookie.  And healthful.  No white flour allowed today.  In working with the recipe I used pecans in some batches and walnuts in others.  Both are excellent but only if toasted prior to baking otherwise the nuts are bland and lost in the biscotti.  It’s a simple recipe and easy.


As I’ve written in other posts, I strongly, strongly suggest using parchment paper to line your baking sheet.   It can be found at the grocery store but the paper is in a roll like tin foil or wax paper which makes it tricky to work with.  The ends of the paper curl imitating the roll in the box.  Flat sheets are found in many food warehouses and are much, much cheaper.  Leave them to cool completely before storing them and the cookies will remain crisp.  Dunk in a cup of coffee, hot tea or a glass of milk for a satisfying treat.



100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 50 biscotti
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour + extra to shape the dough
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, a pinch
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, optional
  • 2 teaspoons orange oil or extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt until completely combined.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standup mixer add the eggs and, with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs until broken up.
  4. To the eggs add the sugar and olive oil and mix until well combined.
  5. Add to the egg mixture the orange zest, liqueur if using, orange oil or extract, vanilla and mix until completely combined and the orange zest is evenly mixed through and not in clumps.
  6. Add the flour mixture and nuts to the egg mixture and slowly beat until all ingredients are well mixed and there are no wet spots on the bottom of the bowl.  The dough will be heavy and sticky.
  7. Sprinkle flour on the counter and on your hands, divide the dough in half and roll each half into logs measuring about 14″X3″X1″.
  8. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving 2 inches between the logs.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.
  10. Move one log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4 inch cookies.  Place cut cookies back on baking sheet cut side up.  Slice the second log in the same manner.
  11. Return baking sheet to the oven and bake 30 minutes, turning over cookies after 15 minutes of baking.
  12. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing.


The Hot Springs of Lesvos

Lesvos, Greece.  Poolside.  No makeup, hair could really stand a wash, and I couldn’t care less! Past the majestic date palms which line the length of the pool I look down upon fields dotted with ancient olive trees, hundreds of years old, their trunks gnarled and twisted, their leaves gently swaying in the afternoon breeze coyly showing off the silvery underside as a girl might let her secret love catch a quick glimpse of her petticoats.  Beyond is the Aegean.  These waters are cold, I mean, REALLY cold. Lesvos is known for many things.  Their ouzo is world-renowned.  Their olive oil is some of the best on this planet.  Greeks consider Lesvos one of the most gorgeous islands not only because of her beaches but the island is also home to thousands of birds which stop here during their migration to and from Africa.  This is not an arid island.  Not only are there olive groves and pine trees but meadows filled with wild flowers and butterflies. Horses, goats and sheep graze peacefully in fields filled with pine and elm trees.  Cool breezes wrap themselves around you and, yes, the sun is warm, but not like a hot flame licking the bottoms of your feet.  No, the sun is warm and golden.  Down the road from our hotel is a natural hot spring. The building housing the spring dates back to Roman times.  The entrance is a small, cement doorway which opens to a large, domed structure.  The rounded ceiling opens to a 15 small, square holes which send down a brilliant rays of sunlight that dance and shine smack dab in the middle of the rectangular hot spring.  The floor of the spring is covered with smooth, round rocks and a several well-worn boulders have been strategically placed for seating.  It’s so pretty and relaxing.  Until you open one eye and catch the fat man from some unnamed Slavic country who was just sitting across from you attempting to get out of the steaming waters and shooting you a HIGHLY unattractive backside view of his private parts as seen through his speedo.  Eeeeeeew.  Pretty nasty, but I know you can get past it. Other than that, it’s a pretty spectacular place.  When you first try out the hot springs a gentlewomen explains the correct procedure of immersing yourself.  Cold water is the first step and you have your choice of an outside shower or the Aegean Sea.  The waters of the Aegean are dark, cobalt blues to shimmering, pale aquamarine and colder than you can imagine.  It’s painful just sticking your big toe in.  I’ve even seen Russians scream upon contact.  It takes quite a bit of self-discipline to stay in such frigid waters but after five or six minutes you can drag yourself out and tackle the next step.  The springs are a toasty 109 F to a blistering 115 F.  She advised us to slowly ease ourselves into the waters and advised us the feet are some of the most sensitive parts of the body.  The first time we went I remember thinking, “Oh, no. Not me. I could probably do a cannonball into the water and be just fine.  I’m a mermaid.”  Boy, was I wrong. The tops of your feet truly ARE highly sensitive creatures so we heeded her words and took our time.  Little by little, inch by inch we lowered ourselves until the water came up to our necks.  The hot spring pool is relatively shallow so we were almost horizontal by that point holding onto the edge of the pool for leverage. The recommended time in the pool is no more than 20 minutes so we were happy to get out.  It.Was.Hot.  You could feel yourself perspire, submerged, while watching your skin turn pink.  Time to get back into the cold.  Funny thing tho, when we felt the cold of the Aegean again on our bodies, and believe me, we were dreading it, if didn’t hurt!  Matter of fact, it felt nice. Cool against the heat of our skin.  And it was the same when we went back into the springs.  Felt like bath water!  Back and forth we went, sometimes chatting with each other or other bathers until we surrendered to the luxurious point of limp relaxation.  After a quick towel rub down, a towel can be purchased for a mere 1e, one can take in a little sun and enjoy the drowsy aftermath and post-springs conversation.  “I’m hungry.  You hungry?”  “Yeah.  I could choke down a little something.  Sure.”  “You wanna go to “Our Favorite Restaurant?”  “Oh, yeah!!”, and off we go with our liquid limbs and at a leisurely pace still relishing the warm sun on our skin.  As we approach the Efftalou Restaurant we take in the Aegean and Turkey to our right and, yes, more olive trees to our left.  A quick scan of the restaurant and we take our seats outside.  Usually under the shade of a fig or lemon tree.  This restaurant is known for its fresh fish and never disappoints.  With a cold Mythos beer for Jimmy and an equally cold, crisp glass of house white for me, our order is taken and is usually the same. Grilled whole fish or grilled octopus and loads of vegetables! The fish is from local waters and never more than an hour or two has passed since being caught.  The typical grilling method is to rub the fish with olive oil, give it a light sprinkling of salt, slip it into a flat grilling basket and onto the fire.  It’s served with lots of freshly cut lemon and good Greek olive oil.  And it’s always out of this world!!  A side of boiled, wild greens with more lemons and olive oil, zucchini blossoms stuffed with feta, maybe a Greek salad and, baby, lunch is served!

Dessert!!! Always on the house!!

Greek Style Roasted Potatoes


Glenn Frey’s Miami Vice hit “Smuggler’s Blues” was on the radio this morning on the ride into work.  What a hoot.  Made me think of all the smugglers in our family, Mom and Dad being our sources of inspiration.  I think Mom started before Dad, smuggling plants and herbs out of Puerto Rico.  Culantro, the stronger cousin of cilantro, was completely unheard of in Florida when we were growing up.  It is absolutely essential in Puerto Rican cuisine.  It goes in everything, soups, stews, chicken, beef, beans, EVERYTHING.  Mama never prepared any of those dishes but she wanted her culantro.  It has a very strong perfume and I know its heady scent propelled her back home if only for a few fleeting seconds.  Most trips to Puerto Rico ended the same way.  On the day of our departure one of her sisters or her mother would lovingly uproot five or six small culantro plants making certain the thin, spidery roots were covered by wet paper napkins.  The slim, green leaves were then carefully encased in a protective envelope of tin foil.  Mama would then tuck away her stash in the bottom of her suitcase in a shoe.  Or a place the Agriculture Department would never think to look…one of those satin side compartments.  I remember one trip in particular.  We were all at the airport saying our goodbyes.  Those were the days when our entire family would turn out.  My grandmother and all my aunts had on hats and gloves.  I turned around looking for Mama, she had disappeared but then just as quickly reappeared.  It was such a hectic scene I didn’t think anything of it.  There was always somebody crying and our uncle, Panino, would again be holding his movie camera while barking orders for us to smile or wave or stand over there.  It all happened so fast, the hugs and kisses and goodbyes. Suddenly we were back home.  I walked into my parent’s bedroom and Mama was just staring off and not in a happy way.  When I asked her what was wrong she answered that she didn’t have her culantro.  She had thrown it into a garbage bin at the San Juan airport.  I remember her saying “I was going to get caught.  I knew I would get caught.”  Even if she had, all Agriculture would have done is throw the stuff out.  Mama was so literal in her life.  Wrong is wrong is wrong.  She barely spoke for a week after that.  Her homesickness was so close to the surface but she would never, ever let her girls see her fall apart.  How hard it must have been to say goodby to her precious, precious family.  Dad, on the other hand,  never got caught but didn’t care if he had.  He just wanted his stuff.  He did, however, get searched with Mom in San Francisco on the way back from Japan.  Dad had bought Mom a watch and didn’t declare it.  In fact, he left the watch box in the barf bag on the airplane.  That was a red flag for Customs.  Kids, when I say Mom and Dad were searched, it was a complete pat down.  For an undeclared watch.  Meanwhile, Dad had decided he wanted to raise silk worms and some exotic rare beetles.  That’s what he was smuggling back.  Silk worm cocoons and beetles.  Did he get caught?  Au contraire, mon frere.  In the San Francisco hotel where they were overnighting the beetles got loose and were flying about the suite like big, black Russian air buses.  Mama burst into tears exclaiming,  “Oh, Jackson!  I cannot take this anymore!  It’s been a bad day!”  Dad said he would catch the beetles and put them away.  He only caught three of the four illegal creatures but didn’t have the heart to tell Mama.  “Don’t worry, Cookie, I got ’em all.”  What did I smuggle?  I brought all kinds of things back from Puerto Rico.  Culantro for Mom, gigantic yagrumo leaves from the rain forest, El Yunque.  They’re white on one side and chocolate-brown on the other.  And were most stunning in my apartment.  I brought back seeds and seedlings.  One time I brought back two huge stalks of sugar cane.  My Tio Enrique cut them down for me on his ranch and patiently explained how to care for them.  Was I caught?  Nope.  Well, flash to years later when we were close to leaving Greece and  I found myself in a market staring at a wooden wine cask filled with fresh, LOCAL oregano.  In Greece fresh oregano is a thing of beauty.  The ubiquitous herb is scattered on salads, vegetables, meats, everything. Pale and golden in color, rich in perfume I filled up a bag the size of a pillow case.  Jimmy said, “You can’t take that back.”  I replied, “Just watch!  I can bring anything back.  I never get caught.”  I hid it in my suitcase, checked the bag through and started worrying.  On the flight back we got our cards of declaration and no mention was made of my contraband.  We snaked our way through the long lines at Kennedy claiming our bags to then get in the queue for Customs.  James was texting like a mad man finally having internet access on his cell phone while Jimmy was flip-flopping between murmuring in my ear, “What are you going to do if you get caught?” and flat-out stating “You’re going to get caught.  YOU’RE GOING TO GET CAUGHT!”  With my heart pounding in my throat all I could think to do was try to act like a typical American family.  I was loudly all over James saying things like, “Son! Please! I don’t want to have to tell you again. Pay attention.  We’re in a hurry.”  And hissing at him in a most unloving way, “We have a plane to catch and we still have to get through Customs.  Please. Move up in the line and help us out!”  That’s when Jimmy would quietly murmur in my ear, “You’re gonna get caught.”  Back and forth it went.  And every time a Customs agent would walk by with a walkie-talkie I would exclaim, “James! I am asking for your attention and help.  Please! Put that fool phone away and grab these bags!  WE.HAVE.A.PLANE.TO.CATCH.”  My heart was beating like a rabbit on crack.  “Dammit, James! I mean it!  You need to help out, son.” We were next in line when a walkie-talkie wielding Customs agent approached us.  He slowly looked us up and down.  Sizing us up he said, “You people go through here, please.”  They skipped right over us.  No Customs inspection.  None.  He put us in the boring, tame as little baby deer, non-smuggling, family line.  My ruse had worked.  They thought we were just another typical American family on vacation.  Little did they know this Mama was a mule.  A spice mule.  I was thrilled.  Thrilled!  Here at home I used my oregano miserly as if it were flakes of dried gold.  And I was quite proud of my law breaking feat.  Until the day I told my story to another Greek who said to me, “You know, you can bring it back.  Oh, yeah.  It’s totally legal.  Bring back as much as you want.”  I couldn’t believe it.  After all that.  The moral of the story?  Next time bring back two pillow cases full!

I use my oregano from Mytilene for these Greek Style Roasted Potatoes.  Since the first time I made this recipe I have never wanted any other kind of roasted potato.  These are truly sublime.  I have made tray after tray and there are never enough.  Your people will eat them and eat them until there are none left.  They’re super simple, an easy side or uncomplicated meal.  Very monastic.  Tonight we’re having them as dinner.  With some homemade tzatziki to dip and a few slices of ripe summer tomatoes.  James and all the kids love these so I urge you to try them.  You’ll never buy frozen again.    Lemony, crisp on the outside and flaky, dense on the inside.  A true gift from the gods…Greek gods.  Thanks, Dimitra!  (Goddess of the Harvest)



Greek Style Roasted Potatoes

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

  • 4 large baking potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch spears
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried oregano, Greek if you can get it
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 lemons
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients EXCEPT potatoes and lemons.  Stir well making sure salt has completely dissolved.
  3. Add potatoes to bowl and using hands toss well covering potatoes completely with water olive oil mixture.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil.  That makes for easy clean up.  Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  5. Place potatoes cut side down in one layer on baking sheet.  Pour water olive oil mixture over all the potatoes and carefully place in oven.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and turn all potatoes so the other cut side is facing down.
  7. Cut lemons in half and juice all of them over all the potato slices.  Return them to the oven.
  8. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  9. Serve immediately.  They’re divine with homemade tzatziki.


Homemade Pesto

Although we’re almost to the home stretch of Lent, I still try to maintain certain food items in my refrigerator.  Going completely without meat for 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS is certainly a test of self-discipline, but it can be accomplished.  And I have to be honest, each year it becomes easier and easier.  It’s not so much that we crave meat, as much as the daily meals, the weekly menus, shrink significantly in variety and assortment.  Can you visualize the undertaking of  having no chicken for this period of time?  I mean, at the very least, you’re somewhat limited as to what you can throw on the grill.  It’s easy to get bored and easier to fall into the pattern of the same few dishes done over and over and over… It’s hard if you like to cook, I can only imagine the drudgery and monotony if you don’t like being in the kitchen.  So I have something I try to always maintain in the refrigerator.  And that is homemade pesto, which is fabulous, easy, keeps well, and marries superbly with so many ingredients, not just pasta.  One day last weekend we were to be out in the evening so my cooking was just our lunch.  I sliced and toasted some whole grain bread and, when it cooled to the touch, I spread it with a little pesto.  I then topped each piece of bread with freshly sliced tomatoes and finished with a bit of Armenian string cheese I found at the Dixie.  The cheese was fabulous, with Nigella seeds running through it.  The seeds have a wonderful exotic kind of perfume flavor.  I ran the guilty little pleasures under the broiler until they were golden and bubbly.  Ohmygosh, were they EVER good!  That same pesto is light yet substantive mixed with your favorite whole grain pasta, a little of the cooking water from the pasta to thin the pesto, and some grilled chicken slices, or shrimp, or thin slices of grilled beef or pork tenderloin. Add to that some frozen edamame, shredded carrot, scallions, maybe some crisp asparagus pieces.   Can you say, “great leftovers”?  How about pesto pizza or basted on salmon as it finishes being grilled?  For a pretty and easy appetizer roll out a sheet of grocery store puff pastry.  Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of pesto all over pastry leaving a quarter-inch border without.  Roll up pesto pastry tightly, slice into rounds maybe 1/4 inch thick, and bake the pinwheels at 400° until puff pastry is golden. Oh, man, are those good.  You can make a great stuffed mushroom mixing a little pesto, remember this stuff is strong, with breadcrumbs, top with parmesan cheese and bake.  It’s delicious spread on boneless, brainless chicken breasts, cover with some thinly sliced mushrooms and top with a slice of provolone or a little grated fontina.  Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked but still moist inside.  So good.  Vegetables and potatoes are sublime tossed in this pesto after having been roasted at 425°…try brussel sprouts, bell pepper and onion chunks, whole, peeled garlic cloves and split grape tomatoes.  Here’s another fast dinner.  Take equal sized sheets of tin foil, one for each packet, and spray with non-stick spray.  In the middle of the foil, stack a few thin slices of potatoes such as Yukon Gold, a white fish fillet like dolphin, spread a little pesto on the fish and top fish with tomato slices, zucchini slices, and whole leaves of basil.  Salt and pepper to taste, crimp and seal edges of tin foil to make snug packets, put onto baking sheet with a lip and bake at 375° for 20 minutes or vegetables are fork tender.  I love that recipe.  Just make sure your baking pan has a lip because the packets are LOADED with the juices from the fish and vegetables and if any of them leak the oven won’t get soaked.  I serve the packets in a shallow bowl, like a pasta bowl, with some good, whole grain bread, sliced and toasted, most probably with a garlic clove run over the bread, a little olive oil drizzled over it and a quick toss of salt and pepper.  Heaven.  The broth which comes out of the packets is out of this world and extremely healthful.  The number of grilled or pressed sandwich combinations one can make is endless.  Grilled turkey, pesto with provolone or mozzarella.  Try thin slices of rare, roast beef.  This recipe yields quite a bit of pesto but it freezes incredibly well.  Try freezing the pesto in small, individual containers and pour a small film of good olive oil to cover before sealing and freezing.  The olive oil will protect the pesto from turning dark and will help keep it a brilliant green.  I’m tellin’ ya, it’s great stuff.

Homemade Pesto

  • Servings: approximately 3 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, (they’re a super food and more flavorful than pine nuts)
  • 1 large head of garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5-6 packed cups fresh basil leaves, no stems, they’re bitter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In the bowl of your food processor, fit the steel blade and add walnuts and garlic and process for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the basil, salt and pepper.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the feed tube and process until the pesto is well processed.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree for another minute.  You don’t want it completely smooth.
  5. Use and store as needed.



House Salad, Unplugged

When we were in high school, summer was incredible!  Just about everyday was spent at the same beach, with the same friends, doing the same things…a whole bunch of nothing!!  For some reason, I was responsible for my little brother and sister so, like it or not, they went to the beach with me.  All day, everyday.  We’d get to the beach at maybe  ten or eleven in the morning and I wouldn’t see them again for another good five or six hours! Nice, huh?  We’d unload the car and somewhere between the pool and the bar we’d go our separate ways.  I’d find my girlfriends, they were all ready oiled up, so I would break out my Ban de Soleil grease and lie back for a couple of HOURS of sun and a Diet Coke!!  Can you imagine lying in the sun for a couple of HOURS?  It’s not all the alcohol I’ve had that makes me look so bad… it’s all that sun!  After a few hours of heat and gossip my friend Andrea, we called her Ang, just like Barney called Andy in “The Andy Griffith Show”, would ask, “anybody want to go play Mermaid?” “Yeah.  Sure.  I’ll go.”, I would answer.  Y’all need to know we were the ONLY ones who EVER played “Mermaid”.  It was a long walk down the beach to the jetties which was the only place we played “Mermaid”.  For those of you who don’t know, the jetties is a man-made barrier of enormous, stacked boulders forming the north side of the mouth of Port Everglades, cruise ship capital of the world.  Well, ever so carefully we would climb up and down those rocks, slowly making our way to the end of the point.  It seemed so far, the waves would just crash against those rocks.  We didn’t dare look around or even think about what we were doing because one slip and we would have fallen far, far down those rocks and split our heads open like a Crenshaw melon!!  It was well worth it, tho!  When we were finally standing on top of the very last boulder, we’d fluff our hair and wait for a cruise ship.  Let the game begin!  We’d hear the bellowing horn of a ship announcing it’s departure, and see the mammoth vessel inching its way to sea, decks packed with pasty, white Midwesterners in their Hawaiian shirts frantically waving.  Ang and I would WHIP OFF OUR BATHING SUIT TOPS AND WAVE TOPLESS… LIKE MERMAIDS!!  Long, slow waves to all those old people!  We’d sway back and forth as if listening to “Hey, Jude”!  Jaws dropped.  Women scowled. We’d laugh and smile.  We were happy.  We were stars.  Some years back when Andrea’s mom was going though chemo, I wanted to take her mind off things so I told her about how we played Mermaid.  She looked so resigned.  She dropped her head and looked away.  But when she looked back up, was she laughing!!  Her eyes sparkled! Did she ever howl over that one!!  I like that memory.  A little later we’d head back for lunch and order the same thing, day in, day out, no matter who was there, this lunch was a constant.  Our favorite summer lunch was an iced coffee with milk, and a small dinner salad with blue cheese dressing, “just a little, please!” We would linger over that lunch FOR EVER.  And that’s all we had all day.  That’s it.  Well, maybe another Diet Coke to take back to the pool.  That salad was always soooo good!  Cold and crunchy with lots of cracked black pepper and little bits of blue cheese.  Sometime in the late afternoon, the sun would begin to set and I’d realize I still had my little brother and sister to track down.  After gathering them up, we’d make that long, hot trek across the asphalt back to my car.  My car.  I loved my little car, but in the summer it was a hot box, an inferno, a portable heater, AND too small for air conditioning.  Top down, still hot as blue blazes, we’d drive over to the graveyard on SR 84.  It was always open and anyone could go in.  The road inside was really curvy and wound around and around.  In the summertime it seemed like the gargantuan cemetery sprinklers were always on.  So, top down, we’d fly through whooping and hollering, the kids screaming when that cold water hit!  It was glorious!   Wet and happy, we’d head home.  It was a GOOD summer!

This is my House Salad which can be served as a side salad or main course.  It pairs beautifully with everything!  Anything grilled or jerked, seafood, chicken, pork, even more vegetables.  Tonight we’re having my House Salad with grilled medallions of eggplant on garlic whole grain crostini.  Because Gorgonzola is kind of strong, I’m careful not to add too much otherwise it will dwarf the buttery mildness of the avocado and peach-like flavor of the mango.  Hey!  Peach would be good in this!  Just make certain the avocado and whatever kind of fruit you’re using are ripe.  The ingredients really compliment each other.  You’ll love it!!  It’ll make you feel like a Mermaid!

House Salad

Yield:  4 side salads or 2-3 as main course

  • 1 large head leaf lettuce, washed, dried and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped into 1/4″ pieces, be careful – they’re slippery!
  • 1 ripe Haas avocado, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 2-3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, washed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 tbls. good olive oil
  • 1-2 tbls. white vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, toss gently.
  2. To avoid a wilted salad, serve immediately.