Symbolic Dinner

Rosh Hashanah Dinner

Rosh Hashanah
Jewish New Year 5769

Crusted Fresh Petrale Sole
Topped with Caramelized Honeycrisp Apples
Israeli Couscous Medley
Honeyed Baby Carrots

Carrots represent our hope that we increase our good deeds, topped here with butter and honey, to symbolize the wish for sweetness in the coming year.

Wishing You a Sweet New Year
L’Shana Tova!

To observe Rosh Hashanah, traditional foods sweetened with honey, apples and carrots are served. They symbolize sweetness, blessings, abundance and the hope for a sweet year ahead. Fish is a part of the Rosh Hashanah meal, for it is an ancient symbol of fertility and prosperity and also represents knowledge since its eyes are always open. This is the time to reflect on our lives, values and relationships. The festive symbolic meal is an integral component of the Rosh Hashanah celebration.
L’Shana Tova Tikatevu

May Your Name be Inscribed in The Book of Life
For a Good Year

Mojito Cake

A Mojito is a Cuban cocktail made by muddling fresh mint leaves with sugar and lime, then adding ice, rum, and club soda.
My late Great Auntie Edna made the moistest Lemon Cake you have ever tasted. In the 1950’s she worked in a bakery. Loved to bake. My mom says she made a mean pineapple upside-down cake, and my Great Aunt Ethel fondly remembers her Prune Cake. During the 1960’s, with convenience all the rage, a lemon jello cake recipe made its way around the country. It was quick and easy, made from a box of cake mix and a box of Jello. Auntie would bring this lemon cake to all the family functions…

Several years ago my brother was coming to visit me, and I asked him, what would you like me to cook for you? Aunt Edna’s Lemon Cake. I asked my mom if she had the recipe, she did, and I have been making different incarnations of it ever since. And although I did not inherit my Great Auntie’s love of baking, I do have her appreciation for convenient desserts.
Here is my MOJITO CAKE Version of Lemon Jello Cake:

3 oz. Jello added to 1 box (18 oz.) white cake mix.
To get the cake the color of a mojito, I use 1 1/2 oz. each Lemon Jello and Lime Jello.

Add 4 eggs, 3/4 c. canola oil, and 3/4 c. water. Mix well, then pour into a greased Bundt pan. (I use Trader Joe’s Cooking Spray with Flour). Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

Cool slightly. Pierce lots of holes all over the cake. I use a wooden skewer, or you can use a chopstick.

Put 2 T. Rum and 1 T. Crème de Menthe (a sweet mint-flavored liqueur) in a measuring cup then add fresh squeezed lime juice to make 1/2 cup.

Combine the lime juice mixture with 2 c. powdered sugar.

Pour over the holes and let the lime sugar mixture saturate the cake. Invert the cake onto a platter, serve with limes and fresh mint. Dust with powdered sugar.
Mojito Cake: with flavors of lime, mint, rum, and sugar!
The Retro Lemon Jell-O Cake Recipe:

  • 1 package 18 oz. classic yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box 3 oz. Lemon Jello
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Mix well, pour into a greased 13 X 9 cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes until the cake is set.

Cool slightly and then poke holes all over the cake with a fork.

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • ½ c. fresh lemon juice
Mix, then pour glaze over the cake.
Some of our other versions include:
Margarita Cake – sub Tequila and Cointreau in the Mojito recipe and garnish with salt crystals.
Pink Lemonade Cake – substitute raspberry Jello for 1/2 of the lemon Jello
Molly’s Strawberry Margarita Cake – add strawberry Jello
Did your Grandma or Great Aunt make a similar cake?

Petits Pots de Crème

Chocolate Orange Pots de Crème

The term “Petits Pots de Crème” refers both to a soft baked custard and to the small ceramic pots, often with lids, that they are baked in. These adorable authentic petits pots are made in France. They belonged to my grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Dawn.

To continue our Celebration of Julia Child during her birthday week, we made her chocolate pots de crème recipe for dessert.

Evelyn and Julia hailed from the same town. Both were born in Pasadena, California, Evelyn in 1907 and Julia in 1912. I never heard Evelyn mention that their paths had ever crossed. But she did get a kick out of telling us that a boy named Marion Morrison asked her to the high school prom and she turned him down. He eventually became an actor and changed his name to John Wayne. Both ladies were nonagenarians. Julia passed away two days before her 92nd birthday, and Evelyn passed away just 8 days after her 93rd birthday.

We made this dessert in honor of Evelyn and Julia. The recipe comes from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home.

We used 4 oz. unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate and added the optional orange zest and coffee as Julia suggested.

Two cups of heavy cream with orange zest and instant coffee are heated to a simmer then steeped 5 minutes off the heat.

Four egg yolks are whisked with 1/3 c. sugar until the yolks are pale and thick.  Then the hot cream is slowly stirred into the egg mixture.

The custard is then poured through a sieve, (which removes the orange zest and any coagulated bits of egg) into a bowl with broken chocolate pieces. It is stirred to melt the chocolate and 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract is added.

The petits pots are filled with the chocolate mixture, then placed in a baking pan with hot water about half way up the pots. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Cool briefly then refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
Thank you Julia, for the delicious recipe and inspiration, and thank you Evelyn for the darling petits pots.

Hollywood Bowl Picnic

Summer Evening in LA
Picnic and Concert at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the United States. It is a friendly sociable place where Southern Californians gather to picnic and enjoy outstanding music. Last Wednesday, we thoroughly enjoyed the music of Chris Botti and Orchestra. Chris is an engaging entertainer, refreshingly humble, gracious and funny, not to mention a fabulous trumpeter. He’s my new fav. You can hear him here.

The gates open at 6 PM for the picnickers  to set up their tables and enjoy a meal before the show starts at 8 PM. We set up our box then went around to socialize with our neighbors and check out their picnics before dinner.

I spy… Veuve Clicquot Champagne


Our Mediterranean place settings and picnic menu:
Appetizer
Green Olive Tapanade, Dates, Sprouted Flatbread
First Course
Shrimp, Herbed Tomato & Feta
Grilled Ciabatta
Main
Cold Thin-Sliced Beef Tenderloin – Savory & Sweet Mustard Rub
Lemon Caper Aioli
Arugula Salad – Rosemary Vinaigrette
Cannellini Bean, Haricot Verte, Roasted Tomato, Marcona Almond
Dessert
Grilled Apricot
Greek Yogurt, Honey, Chocolate Mint Sprigs
Coffee

Since table setting is one of my hobbies, I get a kick out of some of our neighbors’ tables…
this one is totally groovy!

These gentlemen had a manly setting and a nice bottle of Zin

Adorable little fresh flower arrangement,  jaunty table cloth & napkins

Centerpiece is a gourd with sprigs of lavender with sophisticated white linens
After the meal, the chairs are turned around to face the stage, everything is packed up and stored stuffed under our seats, and then…

…we enjoy the show!

Bravo Chris Botti and Orchestra!

“To me, music that breaks your heart is the music that stays with you forever,” muses the best-selling jazz artist Chris Botti when talking about his new album, Italia. “It’s one thing to be melancholy and one thing to be sophisticated, but when you get the two of them together in a way people can relate to, then I think you’re on to something.  You want the sophistication to lie in the purity of the sound, the beauty of the arrangements, and the quality of the performances.”
A special thank you to Val, James and Terri for a wonderful evening under the stars.

Pineapple Peanut Coleslaw Alfresco

Summer is here! YAY! Time for alfresco dining.

One of the side dishes that was a hit at this alfresco meal was
The Pineapple Peanut Coleslaw.

Nothing fancy, but this combination of ingredients is a winner.

A small can of crushed pineapple is drained.

Napa cabbage is thinly sliced.
The crinkled leaves give a good texture to coleslaw.

Sliced scallions and cilantro are added.

Equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream are blended together with pineapple.
Add peanuts and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Let’s eat!
Where’s the beef?


We’re looking forward a long summer with plenty of grilling and outdoor dining ahead.

How ’bout you?

Afternoon Tea

I attended an absolutely lovely event co-hosted by the 7th Grade Girls and Mothers to honor the graduating 8th Grade Girls at Rolling Hills Country Day School in Palos Verdes, California.

This annual event, which has been taking place for decades, is held at the home of one of our families at Country Day School. This time it was at a beautiful home on the bluff overlooking the Pacific.

The 7th grade girls passed tea sandwiches, little cakes and tarts, and served tea and punch to all the attendees.

In addition, the 7th Grade Girls performed a delightful song for the 8th Graders by Rascal Flatts called “My Wish.”
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

The girls were darling, as always, and as the 7th grade girls did the serving, the 8th grade girls performed the role of gracious hostesses practicing their conversation skills with the adults. As you can imagine, I also have some adorable photos of the girls which I look forward to sharing with their parents.

Mini Scones were served with Devonshire Cream and Lemon Curd.

Early on, it was a little overcast with the temperature in the mid 60’s. The sun came out towards the end of the event. The view was breathtaking.

I am sending this photograph “Centerpiece Overlooking the Pacific at Afternoon Tea” to Sandi at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking for her Centerpiece of the Month (COTM) event, an event which I have been meaning to participate in for forever.
And apropos of my Afternoon Tea post, today is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day. Originally Mother’s Day was marked by the wearing of a single white carnation. Mom may get a big bouquet now, but the sentiment remains the same.
Happy Mother’s Day!
P.S. I love you, Ma.
May 14: Carol at Paris Breakfasts has linked Afternoon Tea in her “Tiny Teapots” post. If you haven’t already, please visit Carol and check out her fabulous watercolor paintings (of which I have 5 hanging in my home).