Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipes! Recipes! Recipes!

I’m pleased to welcome my long time friend and cookbook author, Chef Jean Denham, back to Book Blather. She and her husband, Roy, have left hearth and home, to roam the country in their RV. If you’d like to follow Jean and Roy’s gypsy life, check out her blog at She promises great pictures, interesting food and, best of all, recipes. Below, Jean offers two of her summer favorites. But that’s not all. Following Jean’s recipes are a couple of my own. Enjoy!

Flank Steak, Leek and Orzo Gratin

Not a spectacular dish, but very tasty, healthy and to the table quickly. This is an old Weight Watcher’s recipe. I had some pea pods that needed to be used, so added while sautéing the leeks. Just about any vegetable would work for an additional flavor.

1 cup whole wheat orzo
2 tsp olive oil
3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced, white and light green parts only
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
Salt & black pepper
1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded Fontina cheese (or what you have on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Spray a 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray.

3. Cook orzo according to pkg. directions.

4. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

5. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10-15 minutes.

6. Stir in the orzo, thyme, salt and pepper.

7. Transfer the orzo mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.

8. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

9. Suggested wine: very good with a 7 Deadly Zin and served with Garlic marinated flank steak.

Ramen Noodle Chicken Pad Thai

One of the fastest to put together and flavorful dishes I’ve made in a long time. Two best things about this dish is you can add any veggies you might have in the fridge and/or sauté a few and add; and you can discard that high-sodium packet that comes with the ramen noodle pkg. – not needed.

1 package chicken flavor ramen noodles, 3 ounce
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter
1/2 Tbs garlic chili paste
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 cup cooked chicken, or whatever leftover meat/fish you have
Unsalted chopped peanuts, garnish

1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add noodles, reserve flavor packet, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Drain noodles.

3. Add soy sauce, peanut butter and garlic chili paste to pan and stir to combine. If needed, add cooking liquid to smooth out sauce.

4. Add cooked noodles and stir to coat noodles. Add cooked chicken and stir to combine. Top with chopped peanuts. Serves 2.


Marilee’s Recipes

Unlike Chef Jean, my recipes are not original. The first, Strawberry Fluff Frosting, came from my grandmother. When my sister and I were young, we watched Grandma Bessie bustle around the kitchen and create magic using a wood-burning stove. The frosting recipe required heavy-duty whipping and Grandma did not have an electric mixer. Therefore, every able bodies person in the kitchen took a turn at beating the frosting. Everybody except my sister, Beth. Why? Because she was left-handed and Grandma said Beth would be whipping the frosting in the wrong direction, therefore causing it to collapse. This frosting is yummy on sponge cake, angel food cake, chocolate cake, pretty much anything. But, plan to serve it when you can use it up, because it wilts with time.

Strawberry Fluff Frosting
1 Cup Strawberries
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg White
Mix ‘em together and beat the heck out of it until it stands up in stiff peaks.
Find something to frost. Eat and enjoy!

Shrimp Salad with Watermelon and Feta Cheese
This summer salad is from Chef Martha Culbertson. I was fortunate to observe her in action last winter when I enrolled in one of her cooking classes.

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 small watermelon, seedless, diced into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, julienned
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Combine orange juice, 2 T. of the lime juice and the salt in a large bowl. Put the watermelon and mint into the orange juice mixture, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Toss the shrimp with olive oil and the remaining 2 T. of lime juice. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a grill pan, grill the shrimp, turning once until bright pink and opaque. Set aside. (I sautéed it on the stove and it turned out fine.)

Gently stir the cheese and shrimp into the watermelon mixture. Serves 8.


  1. These all look great, and the Shrimp Salad sounds especially yummy for summer!

  2. It is really good, Barbara. I especially like the mint flavor. Very refreshing in hot weather.

  3. I made Marilee's watermelon/shrimp salad and we loved it - this type of dinner salad is not Roy's favorite, but he cleaned up the leftovers as he was doing dishes!! Thanks Marilee!

  4. You are welcome, Jean. And please, come back to Book Blather any time.