Betty Draper’s Rumaki

Betty seems to love Rumaki. Last Night’s episode (705 The Runaways) marks the second time on Mad Men that she serves it to guests, this time at a progressive dinner party, where the guests have a different course at each house.  I love to watch Betty act as hostess, it’s like she finally feels like she’s doing something important, she’s almost giddy. I can sort of relate to that actually.

My all time favorite episode of Mad Men is from Season two, called A Night To Remember.  Betty hosts a dinner party for Don’s clients and The Sterlings.  She treats the guests to a “Trip Around the World” with the following menu:

  • Gazpacho from Spain
  • Rumaki From Japan
  • Irish Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly
  • German Noodles like her grandmother made
  • Bordeaux from France and Beer from Holland

The Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook from the era has a recipe for Rumaki and introduces it as a Japanese dish.  Rumaki actually originated in California at Trader Vic’s as part of America’s love for all things Polynesian.  My version has a few modern twists.

  • 1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 t. canola oil
  • 1/8 C. soy sauce
  • 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 lb. uncured bacon
  • 1 can, sliced water chestnuts, drained

Combine the oil, soy sauce, curry powder, sugar, and ginger in a shallow dish.  Toss the livers in the mixture and marinate for at least two hours.  Put your bamboo skewers in a glass of water to soak.  This should keep them from burning, although some of mine got a little charred.  Cut the bacon into 2 inch squares.  Skewer one piece of bacon, one piece of liver, and one slice of water chestnut, followed by another piece of bacon.  Place skewers on a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Continue skewering until all the ingredients are used up.  You should have enough for about twenty skewers.  Heat the broiler to high heat.  Broil for four minutes, then turn all the skewers over and continue broiling for three to four more minutes or until the bacon is cooked and beginning to brown.  Serve hot.

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Baked Eggs and Greens

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  When I was a kid I desperately wanted to make my mother breakfast in bed.  I didn’t really know how to cook, but I just really liked the idea of carrying a tray with breakfast to her and setting it on her lap.  I vaguely remember making coffee (probably very badly) and cooking eggs on a plate in the microwave.  Now that I am a grown up I would gladly make my mother a gorgeous breakfast in bed, if we lived in the same house.  So here Mom, this is what I would make for you tomorrow if we were having a sleepover.  Instead I will make it for myself, since I’m a mom now too, and truth be told, I don’t really want to eat what my children would make for me…

So, I just took a break from writing this post to eat one of these little beauties and I am SO happy with how they turned out.  The greens are perfectly tender and the cream gives them a wonderful silkiness.  Serve with toast points for dunking.

These would be a great make-ahead dish for a brunch.  Just multiply the ingredients by the number of guests and prep them up until the baking step.  Pop them in the fridge and bake before serving.  This recipe makes one.

Oh my god, I just ate another one.

  • butter for coating the ramekin
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 generous C. of chopped fresh cooking greens such as kale, chard, or spinach.
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, halved, optional
  • 1/8 C. heavy cream
  • 1 fresh egg
  • 1 t. grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil or parsley for garnish

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a ramekin and place it on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat with the oil.  Add the greens, garlic, and tomatoes and cook until the greens are wilted and the tomatoes have given up their juice, about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Spoon the greens into the ramekin.  Pour the cream over the greens and make a little shallow well in the center, so the yolk will sit in the middle.  Crack the egg on top of the greens.  Sprinkle the top of the egg gently with the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the white of the egg is set.  Let these cool for about five minutes before serving.  Placing a napkin under the ramekin keeps them from sliding around on the plate.

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Breakfast To Go: Overnight Fridge Oatmeal

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This is one of those ideas that’s been floating around Pinterest a lot lately.  I decided to give it a whirl, mainly because I tend to forget to eat breakfast, or I grab some protein bar on the way out the door if I’m lucky.  Funny thing about moms, we are always so worried about what everyone else is eating: kids need protein in the morning, are they drinking enough water? Yet, we rarely remember to think about ourselves.  My kids are eating these gorgeous protein waffles with fresh strawberries, and I’m scarfing down a Balance Bar on the way to work with my third cup of coffee.  Well, this fridge oatmeal is something I can do for me that is fast and easy, and I can just grab it on my way out the door.  I can even eat it in the car.  Just don’t forget to pack a spoon.  I make these three jars at a time, they last for three days in the fridge, then I have three super healthy weekday breakfasts ready to go.

This recipe is for one jar, so just multiply it by the number of jars you are making.  Don’t worry about measuring, just eyeball it.

  • 2/3 C. raw oats, not quick cooking
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • 1/2 C. greek yogurt (I use full-fat, honey vanilla. Full fat yogurt will make you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, hence you will snack less)
  • 1/3 C. nuts or seeds, I use walnuts, ’cause I like ‘em
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 C. almond milk, or any milk that you like
  • If you use plain yogurt you may want to add a little honey or other sweetener.
  • If you want to make this vegan you can leave out the yogurt, or replace it with some silken tofu and add a bit of sweetener like agave syrup.

Set out your three jars.  Add the oats, chia seeds, yogurt, cinnamon, and nuts to each jar.  Pour in the milk shake it a bit to let it settle if it seems like you can’t get all the milk in the jar.  Screw the lids on tightly and shake vigorously until well combined.  Keep the lids on, and store in the fridge overnight or up to three days.  In the morning the oats will have swelled, the chia seeds turn delightfully chewy, and the whole thing is sort of like eating a delicious, cold and creamy tapioca pudding.  The possibilities are endless.  Swap out the nuts for sunflower seeds, add some peanut butter or cocoa powder, add some blueberries, or sliced bananas.  Spend five minutes on yourself in the evening to make your morning that much better!

 

 

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Nigella’s Seared Curry Salmon

Here is a great recipe for a hot evening when you want minimal cooking time. Ten minutes is all it takes!

This is a wonderful recipe for salmon from the book Nigella Express.  I have used it several times and it comes out beautifully.  I used wild Chinook for this.  The spice mixture creates a thin crust on the outside leaving the inside moist and flavorful.  The cooking time is fast, so make this the last thing you do before sitting down at the table.  

  • 2 t. curry powder, mine was Madras
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
  • 1 T. garlic oil

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Combine the curry powder, sugar, and salt on a plate and dredge the salmon pieces in it, being sure to coat each piece evenly.  Cook the salmon in the hot pan for about two or three minutes per side.  The sugar will caramelize on the outside and the inside will be rosy and juicy.  Yum!

 

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Easter Brunch Americano

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If you are hosting Easter Brunch, consider this departure from the usual Mimosa.  Martha Stewart featured this cocktail in her April issue and it is a winner!  I love the bitterness and vivid color of Campari. Martha’s recipe calls for a splash of club soda, but I think a splash of champagne or prosecco would really take this cocktail to the next level.  Thanks Dad for your help with quality control on this one.  This would be a terrific drink for brunch because you can easily double or triple it, make it in a pitcher and serve it as your guests arrive with no fuss.  The Americano is a distinctly Italian cocktail, created by the makers of Campari in the late 1800′s.  Apparently James Bond ordered one in Casino Royale.  Serves 1

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano
  • splash of club soda
  • twist of lemon or orange

Fill a rocks glass with ice.  Pour in the Campari and vermouth, top with club soda (or other bubbles) and garnish with a twist.  To make a pitcher, just use equal parts Campari and vermouth and chill.  Top with club soda as you pour them.

 

 

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Spicy Coconut Broth

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This broth is a wonderful base for your favorite vegetables, meat, or seafood. You can mix and match the veggies you like.  Toss in a few shrimp or some shredded chicken and you’ve got an incredibly healthy and satisfying soup.  Really good stock is important here, so if you don’t have some homemade stock, buy the best you can afford.  The heat can be adjusted by adding more chili sauce, or leaving it out.  Serves 4

  • 4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 Serrano chili peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1-2 t. Sriracha or other red chili sauce
  • 3 t. brown sugar
  • 1 C. cilantro, chopped
  • pinch of salt to taste

Veggies to add:

  • I used 2 C. cubed Hubbard squash (any squash would work)
  • 1 C. asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 C. kale, shredded
  • lime wedges for serving

Heat the stock, peppers, coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, and half of the cilantro in a soup pot over medium heat.  Bring it to a simmer and taste for seasoning.  Add a pinch of salt if needed. Toss in your veggies and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. If you like, add in a few handfuls of uncooked peeled shrimp, or diced chicken breast, and cook just until done, about three minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the rest of the cilantro and the lime wedges. A fresh squeeze of lime really brightens it up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asparagus and Pea Salad with Fried Shallots

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This is a welcome departure from your every day greens and dressing. I was inspired by a fava bean/asparagus salad recipe in Bon Appetit.  The salad is served cold, but be sure to save the frying of the shallots for the last minute- you want them to be extra crispy.  You know how chefs are always talking about peeling asparagus?  I never, ever peel my asparagus.  I snap off the woody end and get to cooking.  This time, I took the advice of Ina and Martha and peeled the ends of the asparagus with a peeler.  What a nice, elegant difference it made!   No stringy ends, and nothing stuck between the teeth either.

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed and peeled:)
  • 1 C. frozen, thawed peas
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

Combine the olive oil, parmesan, and lemon juice with a whisk and season with salt and pepper, then set it aside.  Heat a saucepan of water to a boil and drop in the asparagus.  Cook for about three minutes, until just tender.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  Toss the thawed peas and cooked, cooled asparagus into a bowl with the dressing. Cover and chill.  Just before serving, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Fry the shallots until golden brown and crispy, about two minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel.  Top the cold salad with the hot shallots and serve.  A little sprinkling of crunchy Maldon salt at the end would be totes delish!

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