Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Esther’s Artichoke Spread

2 –  8 oz. cans of artichokes (use bottoms, whole, or quartered) – drain liquid

1/2 to 3/4 cup best quality mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip).  Although some cooks make this dish entirely with mayonnaise, I use a mixture of plain low-fat yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche, quark, or even whipped cream cheese along

Green artichoke vegetable.

Botanical illustration of an artichoke.

with a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise, adjusting liquid so the mixture retains sufficient moisture.

Fresh lemon juice  — from 1 large lemon

2 or 3 (or more) large cloves of garlic, crushed or minced fine

3/4 cup freshly grated aged Parmesan cheese or  use a mix of grated Romano and Parmesan

dash of rice vinegar or dry white wine

pepper to taste

4 oz. sliced almonds

Chop drained artichokes roughly, mix in mayo, lemon juice and grated cheese.  Mix in garlic and other seasoning.  Taste and adjust with dash of vinegar, white wine or more lemon juice or cheese.

Don’t let the mayonnaise taste dominate.  The mixture should be sticky but not dripping wet. Put mixture in a baking dish, top generously with sliced or slivered almonds.  Walnuts or pine nuts can be used in a pinch.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

This recipe can be increased for a crowd.  For 4 cans of artichokes, use about 1 cup of mayo and 1-1/4 cup grated parmesan.  Let taste guide increases in seasoning.

This is a terrific dish to bring as an appetizer for a pot luck event. Always a pleaser.

The original recipe came to me from Esther Safran Foer when we both worked at a K Street public relations firm.


Salmon grilled with Juniper, food and photo by LP O'Neil

Miso Pine Salmon



The original version of  this recipe appeared in Edible Ojai, Fall 2006 issue.  As all cooks do, I have modified it.

I first served it November 4, 2006 to honor adventure traveler Don Schlief who was heading out for several months in India.

The recipe was given by Kobun Chino Roshi, a Zen teacher and friend of the family at Blue Heron Ranch.

Here’s how I prepare this spectacularly simple delicious salmon.

Place in a large baking dish:

Fresh salmon — 2 or more pounds.

Score the skin side of the fish crosswise on a grid with cuts about 1/4 inch deep.

Mix and spread over the fish:

2 tbsp or more white/yellow miso paste mixed with a little water.

Turn fish skin side up and spread on more white/yellow miso paste.

Sprinkle with about 2 tbsp water and 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine) over the fish.

Cut a fresh pine branch and place it on top of the fish.

Cook at 500 degrees F for about 15 min.  Monitor during cooking to prevent the pine branch from catching fire.  Remove pine before serving.


This recipe was created by David George, and published in The Herb Companion, February/March, 1996 p . 21

Vegitative Chili


1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup tamari

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cardomom


Main Ingredients:

1 lb fresh firm tofu, cubed into bite size chomps

1 large onion diced

1 teaspoon or more minced garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1 large can red kidney beans drained (save juice)

1 large can black beans (save juice)

1 big can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons basil

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Step 1. Put the cubed tofu in the marinade, preferably a glass bowl with plastic sealing lid so that the tofu + marinade can be shaken and evenly coat the tofu.  The longer the tofu soaks, the deeper the marinade seeps into the tofu.  For a fresh taste, add a cup of cranberry or orange juice to the marinade, also horseradish and  a pinch of tumeric – under

a half teaspoon!  Tumeric is anti-inflamatory, good for human skeleton.

Then you saute the onion, garlic and dry spices in a big cast iron fry pan or similar large skillet (with the little dab of oil listed with the spices) – ideally the mustard seed will pop like popcorn (medium high heat) so use a lid! Now before anything burns, but after the onions go limp and translucent, scoop in the marinated tofu with marinade if it isn’t too much liquid.

The heat should still be medium, but you will probably want to reduce after the mustard seed has popped.  Of course, you can omit the mustard seed too.  If the fry pan is well seasoned, the tofu should start to form a crust. Expect some to stick and scrape back with a metal spatula  to keep the tofu loose and browning on all sides. The next object is to bring all the tofu up to temp while not too gently browning the sides of the tofu cubes. This can take as long as 15 minutes. When the heat is right around medium-low,  the fu will not stick too much as it browns and you can flip it every two or three minutes. If some of the cubes go the way of the Berlin wall – not too worry.

The tofu can be served at this point as a flavorful cubes over rice with vegetables.

Or proceed with the chili —

Take the brief time between tofu flips to mix the rest of the goods in a stew pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker. When the tofu meets with your satisfaction, or you’re sick of flipping it, go ahead and toss it in the chili.

Cook slowly over low heat for at least two hours.  Test for flavor and consistency.  Add liquid if necessary as the cooking proceeds.



White Food Poem


Homage to white food

Potatoes and rice,

plain breast o’chicken.

Noodles, cream sauce, yogurt and brie.

Cottage cheese, chou de Chine,

endive, cassava and celeriac.

Inside the cucumber, ginger and almond.

Coconut milk, kohlrabi

flour and powdered sugar.

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