It is always so energizing when the marine layer retreats and allows some spectacular stargazing. So many people enjoyed the Super Moons of July and August, and there is yet one more to come, on Sept. 9, already marked on my calendar.
Observing tonight’s millions and billions of stars from my deck must be a reward for getting a lot of important work done, and to celebrate Julia Child’s 102nd birthday, since she was one of my shining stars. I was chatting with friends recently about missing her and Erma Bombeck, my other hero.
Julia was such an accomplished person in many arenas, and yet one of the programs that she filmed in her latter years with younger and upcoming chefs demonstrated her humility as she learned with rapt and impressed attention how to make authentic tamales from scratch. We are never too old or too smart to learn.
Another of my heroes and friends, Sharon Lovejoy, posted on Facebook about how easy it is to make cheese from plain Greek yogurt, and gussy it up with your favorite blossoms or herbs. I followed the simple directions to plop a carton of yogurt into a strainer lined with coffee filters, and set that in a shallow dish in the fridge for a couple of days while the watery part drains out. I turned it a couple of times and changed the filters, and sure enough, got almost a quart of nice tangy cream cheese to work with.
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Sweetening some with a little honey and grated lemon zest (orange zest was even better) made a nice spread for my morning toast; and topped with some crushed pineapple, it made a pretend cheesecake. For appetizers I am looking forward to a spread for crackers made with fresh shreds of thyme, basil and a little mint stirred in. You can see, I learned another lesson — it’s easier to make and use a little quantity from a 6-ounce carton than a full quart!
During one fine golden sunset I kitchen-tested and enjoyed some of these hors d’oeuvres out on the deck:
Stuffed baby portobellos
- 2 pounds of Crimini mushrooms
- 1 pound lean ground bison (or your other favorite)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 6-oz. tub reduced-fat bleu cheese
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
De-stem the mushrooms and wipe with a damp paper towel; allow to dry cap-side up. Mince the shallots, season and stir into the meat (found bison at Costco). Form into very small patties that will fit into the mushroom cavities; sizes vary. Sauté to medium rare and drain off any fat while cooling on paper towels.
Sauté the mushrooms in oil cap-side down about two minutes, then turn over and sauté long enough to dry the liquid that forms; it may splatter. Place the mushrooms on a serving plate, fill with some bleu cheese (or substitute your homemade cream cheese) and top with a mini patty. You may prepare these in advance of your party to this point.
Just before serving, pop them into the microwave until the meat heats through and the cheese melts; ovens vary. In the illustration, you may see I served some with the mushroom on top, much as you would a slider, but those were not so easy to eat with fingers.