Fruit Salad with Candied Ginger and Mint

I’m always looking for varied ways to serve fruit, and while reading my new tablescape book I fell in love with this recipe. I’ve made it twice, using different variations of fruit. Each time, the salad earned high marks, both from Music Man and from the ladies at my church’s luncheon.

The key to this salad is the mix of the fruit with the dressing; the candied ginger gives it a little extra zing and the vanilla creates a smooth sweetness. It’s worth the extra trip to find the candied ginger — or make your own.

Fruit Salad with Candied Ginger and Mint

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 Servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

Fruit Salad with Candied Ginger and Mint

The original source of this recipe is the tablescaping book Great Settings, by Peri Wolfman and Charles Gold. Although Wolfman and Gold used peaches and blueberries, I've made it with several different kinds of fruit and it's always delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 peaches, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 bag Trader Joe's frozen mangos, thawed and drained
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint strawberries, cleaned and quartered
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup minced candied ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or rum

Instructions

Wash and prepare the fruit. Combine all the ingredients in a glass or porcelain bowl, cover, and let stand for about one hour to let the flavors blend.

http://gotmyreservations.com/2013/05/20/fruit-salad-with-candied-ginger-and-mint/

I’m linking up at StoneGable today for On the Menu Monday. Watch my sidebar for my book review of Great Settings on my other blog, The Seasoned Dish.

Today I have no reservations in recommending this fabulous summer treat!

Retro Bistro — French Food in a Strip Mall

I know you’re asking — why would you go to a French restaurant in a strip mall?

The answer is that Retro Bistro is one of the best French restaurants in our area, and its unfortunate location in Mount Prospect probably keeps it from being too busy and too pricey for our budget. I can live with the strip mall location.

Retro Bistro’s ambiance is warm, friendly and relaxed. You can take your well-behaved children and you don’t need to dress up. It’s not a fussy place. The bar is fully stocked and the wine cellar is extensive. I have never been disappointed in either the food or the service at Retro Bistro.

We popped in on for Sunday dinner after a concert at our church which is just down Golf Road. The restaurant is open for brunch from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm on Sundays (call to check first – I’ve seen them closed on Sunday mornings), dinner on Sundays from 4:30 to 8:30,  lunch 11:30 to 2:30 and dinner 5:30 to 10:00 Tuesdays through Saturdays. They are closed on Mondays.

Today we chose the prix fixe (fixed price) menu for $33.00 per person. We had wine, an extra appetizer, coffee and three courses and the bill before the tip was just over $100.00 — Retro Bistro provides excellent value for the price.

Of course I can’t go to a restaurant without taking pictures of the food, so enjoy our meal vicariously.

Blah

I was not compensated for this review and I didn’t tell them that I was a blogger. I just wanted to share that I have no reservations about recommending Retro Bistro.

Retro Bistro / 1746 W Golf Rd / Mount Prospect 60056-4071  / 847-439-2424

Sunset at JFK

Welcome back! Well, maybe you were already here, but I wasn’t.

We just returned from a two-week trip to France and I’ve been busy renegotiating life in the Windy City. Life does go on, doesn’t it, after one returns from a highly anticipated vacation?

I’ve been writing about our trip in detail on a vacation blog, France Frolic 2013, which is linked up in my sidebar. If you want all France, all the time, go there for the goods on our trip.

Meanwhile, over here on Got My Reservations, I’m going to be showcasing some photos from the trip that don’t really fit into the travelogue concept. This photo was taken with my point and shoot out the window as I saw our plane silhouetted against the fading sun.

 

As for me, it’s welcome to Reality 101 and I REALLY need to get to the gym!

Writers Workshop: A Revisit to the “Grossest Family Recipe Ever”

Every family has its traditions. Apparently, one of mine is the grossest family recipe ever.

Originally published last year, talking about family food traditions was an important story to tell. With another year under our belts, Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is still part of my Thanksgiving tradition and it’s even more poignant when compared with others’ viewpoints of my favorite turkey day recipe. 

2012 has been a year of blessings. Our grown up kids are flourishing in their adult lives. Music Man and I are happily adjusting to my retirement and his more positive work environment. Our son is engaged to a beautiful woman whom we are eager to welcome into our family.  Libbie is now four, David is almost two, Jessie is expecting another family member in March, and I love being a great-aunt. Our band will grow and flourish and getting together at Thanksgiving is so very important to its health. Although it’s a pain in the neck to travel 600 miles, it’s worth it. We have a lot to be thankful for.

From November 19, 2011

As we enter our weekend of Thanksgiving and gluttony, I would like to pause and give thanks for the many creatures that give up their lives for us at this time of year.

 

Insert. Silent. Pause. Here.

My little family band gets together with my brothers and their families on the day after Thanksgiving. We have been doing this since 1976; I have not prepared a Thanksgiving meal in my own home since then. Every year, we drive the 600 miles round trip to be with our family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year we decided to forego our gift giving to each other and donate to Heifer International instead. We’ll still be giving gifts to the young ones, and it will be fun to see them open their presents. We also sing Christmas songs — we are THAT family that could make our own Trapp Family Singers — and I’m looking forward to hearing three-year-old Libbie sing her part in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me and some of my family, it just isn’t Thanksmas without oyster dressing. It’s unclear where our family recipe comes from, but my mother started making oyster dressing for our holiday gatherings a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember when she didn’t make it. It was just always there.

My mom passed away in June, and as the eldest child, it has become my job to bring the oyster dressing. I’ve been making it for events here in our Chicagoland home for a while, but no one loves oyster dressing as well as my brothers and I do. My niece Jessica wrote about our family recipe on herVanderbilt Wife blog, calling our treasured oyster dressing our “grossest family recipe.” I beg to differ, but as she is allergic to clams, I wouldn’t want her to get sick on oysters. I do, however, want to share the recipe for what I consider to be the crowning glory of our holiday buffet table.

And just we’re clear about the popularity of oyster dressing, even the fabled Ree Drummond published a recipe for Oyster Dressing on her Pioneer Woman blog. I’m not alone in my love for this succulent awesomeness. Ree’s is a little different from ours; hers is more like traditional tossed bread-cube dressing. Grandma’s Oyster Dressing is more of a souffle-like scalloped oysters. It might be fun someday to make both recipes and see which one we like better!

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Grandma's Oyster Dressing

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • Four cans frozen or canned oysters (fresh would be fine, but not necessary)
  • Four ribs finely chopped celery
  • Four cans mushrooms
  • One box saltines crushed
  • one pound butter pats
  • About two cups of milk

Instructions

First spray a 4.8 quart (15" x 10" x 2") rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray, and then add a layer of crushed crackers. Begin layering the ingredients -- oysters, celery, mushrooms, butter, and another layer of crackers. After each cracker layer add some milk and the juice from the mushrooms and oyster cans. You should have about four layers of crackers and three of “goodies.”

Cover it with foil so that it doesn’t dry out and take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so the top gets a little crusty. Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until the texture is puffy like a souffle. It is okay to prepare it in advance and let the liquids sink in.

A large Pyrex casserole dish will serve eight people comfortably as a side dish.

Notes

http://gotmyreservations.com/2012/11/22/writers-workshop-a-revisit-to-the-grossest-family-recipe-ever/

I’m linked up today to the Writing Workshop at Mama’s Losin’ It. It’s been a while since I’ve linked up because I’ve been converting my blog over to being self-hosted. If you have my old version on your blogroll (and I heartily thank you for your support), please change the link to gotmyreservations.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Dutch Cheese Soup

Is going on a cruise all about the food?

For those of you who enjoy traveling by cruising, you already know that a cruise offers cultural and scenic delights as well as some well-deserved rest and relaxation. When I went on my first cruise to the Caribbean, I wasn’t particularly impressed with much about the food the cruise had to offer. I can barely remember what we ate, but I very clearly remember that formal dinners were difficult while traveling with two young children — even if they were well-behaved.

Fast forward twenty years and we took another cruise — just the two of us this time.

Well, just the two of us, our close friends from college, and 146-ish other intrepid travelers. And this time isn’t wasn’t a “fun ship,” it was a Viking River Cruise from Paris to Normandy. All the issues with reserved seating vanished and we didn’t have to decide whether to wait in the bingo game or the casino with the kids while the people in the late seating finished dinner. We had close to three hours every night of wonderful food, fabulous wines, great conversation, and attentive service. Now that’s the way to travel.

It’s not surprising, then, that I went directly to the Viking River Cruises web site to find a satisfying soup recipe for Soup Week. I’ve linked up both the Viking River Cruises site and another blog, A Spoonful of Thyme, where I found the photo. If you are a cheese soup lover, you will love this fall favorite!

Dutch Cheese Soup

Yield: 4 Servings

Dutch Cheese Soup

Travel is wonderful when the food is wonderful. Originally published by Viking River Cruises, this is a yummy entry into your soup recipe book!

Don't forget that you need flameproof crocks to broil the cheese at the end.

Ingredients

  • A quarter cup vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons butter
  • A half cup diced onions
  • One cup diced cauliflower
  • Two potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
  • A half cup carrots, cut into half-inch cubes
  • Four cups chicken stock
  • Four ounces Canadian bacon, diced
  • Five ounces Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
  • Eight slices sourdough baguette
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat oil on medium-high heat in a 1.5-quart saucepan. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add cauliflower, carrots and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil. In a small skillet, heat the butter. Add the Canadian bacon and sauté until lightly browned. Add bacon to soup. Reduce heat to low and cover, simmering until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). Pour soup into four individual flameproof crocks or bowls. Top each portion with two bread slices and one-quarter of the cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately.

http://gotmyreservations.com/2012/11/06/dutch-cheese-soup/

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Saturday Linky Love: Julia Child’s Kitchen — Quelle dommage

I just read that the Smithsonian is dismantling Julia Child’s kitchen and putting it in a larger exhibit where it will be “in context” with other food exhibits.

Image via Richard Strauss/Smithsonian

Image via Richard Strauss/Smithsonian

OMG. I was just thinking about planning a spring break trip to Washington, D.C. in order to put my secret stick of butter in Julia’s kitchen. It’s a good thing I read David Lebovitz’s posts on my Facebook page!

Image via sanfranciscosentinel.com

They say it will be open again “sometime” because the Child kitchen has become a “go-to” exhibit and has attracted visitors far beyond the Smithsonian’s expectations. I was ready to make my pilgrimage, and I’m really disappointed.

I’ve been a Julia disciple for many years, but she really came into focus for me after reading her books and seeing the movie made of Julie Powell’s book. I blogged about my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking here, made a recipe from the cookbook and blogged about it here, and commented on the book and the movie on my previous blog. I’ve excerpted my comments for you here.

Having recently finished reading My Year in France by Julia Child and viewing Julie and Julia, I can’t help recalling the scenes in both the book and the movie where Child gathers in a group of people and creates a family wherever she lives. She lost her mother early, her relationship with her own father and stepmother was strained and it appears that she was disappointed to remain childless, but she made up for this sadness in her life by being a catalyst who drew disparate people together.

Not surprisingly, her lasting friendships appear to have revolved around food and travel. The Valentine’s Day scene in Julie and Julia in Paul and Julia’s French dining room is poignant and felt very meaningful to me as it triggered memories of the wonderful meals I have shared with family and friends in 2009. Even when I went to the movie web site and watched the trailer, I was reminded of incredible meals from the movie and from my own life.

After reading both books and bookending the books with viewings of the movie, I heartily recommend that you do all three. The movie is good enough to stand on its own, but your enjoyment and understanding of the characters involved will be deepened by reading the books.

When I wrote this post in 2009, I had not yet been to France. This summer, we will go back to Paris for a return trip. I’m going to do some more research about Julia’s life in France and perhaps will be able to perform this year’s visit to the Julia shrines in France rather than the United States. Let me know if you have any good ideas!

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