There are forces at work. Forces that bring my need for courage to the forefront; courage to change myself, and the world. I feel we're being swallowed up by disconnection, and by impatience. We have discarded our intuition. We seek only the approval of others.
But there are forces at work to change that. And they remind me that I would not have fully understood how to process forgiveness, or increase my patience ten-fold without teaching myself about food had they not come into play. I would not have understood purpose, or the gift of failure. I would not have been transported to a place where my whole BODY feels joy.
Yes, I may just have a spoon in my hand with butter melting happily in front of me or I might have been whipping a roux in preparation of beef stock, salt, and pepper. Yes, I am just in my kitchen. But it’s where I am discovering power. And where I may actually face all my fears. Is it where you can do the same?
This may seem trivial to you because how can something like salmon, or strawberries, or even olive oil be my trusted advisors? Because they come in honesty. They come with constants. And they arrive urging me to transform them into something new by thinking about the potential of each flavor.
Much like myself.
So what are these forces I'm discovering along my journey to culinary enlightenment? (Or to achieve the perfect béarnaise, which might be the same thing.) In my opinion it has to do with getting very clear about what it is I really want and how I can help others feel that same sense of clarity. And cooking is such a metaphor for getting real about EVERYTHING. You CANNOT have flour, butter, and cream in your hands and not be present, not be in awe of its delicate beauty. You are using your senses, your reasoning, and most profoundly your time to make something that will nourish another human being. Shouldn’t this be thought of as something sacred?
We are so at odds with our humanness these days. So convinced success is vertical. So ready to stop learning and exploring more because we think a differing opinion can somehow rob us of a thing; a “thing” we are certain we deserve. And we are devastated when it isn’t exactly as we imagined it SHOULD be.
So I cook to learn. It proves to me that there are no shortcuts to the right way to do something. That there are rewards for patience. It also teaches me that “I will survive a disaster,” because how I recover is more important than the failure. It is a reminder that I cannot control time, only borrow its power. I can escape through it when I need solace. I understand trust because burnt cookies NEVER tell anyone your secrets.
If cooking is sacred, then my altar is a kitchen table and a chair where I can set a plate before a friend, which contains ingredients I prepared and then arranged with love. This act feeds us both in unlimited ways. That is honesty. That is courage. That is how we will survive.
RECIPE: Salmon with Strawberry Cucumber Salsa
4 salmon steaks, patted dry, rubbed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper
2 C strawberries, sliced
4 scallions chopped
¼ C cilantro leaves chopped finely
Juice of two limes, or about 2-3 T of juice
½ small cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, chopped into a small dice
1 t kosher salt and ½ t black pepper (season to taste)
½ t coriander powder
½ t crushed cardamom
1 t white sugar
1 C white jasmine rice, cooked.
Combine the strawberries, cucumbers, scallion, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, and salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Set aside.
Make white rice according to package directions adding the cardamom and coriander to the water and rice before cooking.
Place oil rubbed salmon in a baking dish about 1 inch apart. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.
To plate put cooked salmon over the rice, and ladle salsa on top. Be sure and pour those juices on it as well! Garnish with a flurry of sea salt.
©Recipe and Photo Copyright Camine Pappas, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
I think the Universe heard me when I said I wanted it to be summer forever. For the 10th time in the last 30 days we have been told it will “cool down tomorrow,” and by next week they say the highs will only be in the low 60’s. Yeah, really? Well I plan to keep my fur lined boots far from reach, and continue with my flip flops until further notice. October 17th or not, it was 85 yesterday, y'all!
It doesn’t matter really whether I’m in island shoes or winter UGG’s. I cook barefooted anyway. What is important is that I created two chicken dinners with enough heat to keep us in the ‘sweltering zone’ for a long time to come.
Yes, I love spicy food! Jalapenos, Thai Chilies, Sriracha, Cayenne, and so many other tongue-burning options are all over my recipe repertoire. That is a win-win for me. And for you. And here are two ways to do it with two chicken recipes you can make tonight.
One is a simple but delicious recipe for Broccoli Orange Chicken. But alas, I couldn’t help doing my thing and "bling-ing" it up a bit with more flavor. I also used ground chicken to make it fast and economical. I have to say I am a new fan of this poultry choice. It was moist and full of flavor. And my husband gobbled it up like it was a row of Oreos. (I use that as a bench mark. You should come over some time and watch just how quickly he can annihilate that row!)
The other utilizes some shelf ingredients but ends up as luxurious as could be. Sauté chicken with vegetables, mix up the sauce, add some flavor with fresh lime zest and basil and you are in for an interesting explosion of intense acid, sweet, umami, heat, and fat in your mouth. My heart is fluttering already.
I invite you to try both of these simple but spicy chicken recipes, just in case the weatherman IS correct and turtlenecks are in our future. And for fun, go ahead and keep your air conditioning on and maintain your fake tan. It’s fine with me to remain in denial as long as you want.
Win, win, win!!!
RECIPE: Sriracha Peanut Cream Sauce
Summer is nearly over and I have a quarrel with her.
I think she may have cheated me out of a few weeks of pleasure.
Ninety days, or one quarter of a year, ought to feel equal in some sense of the word to say, spring, which is an explosion of excess, renewal, and leisure, drawing out the passing seconds the same way a new leaf bursts forth from a barren twig: SLOWLY.
Or winter, now that is a season! She is a master at playing with the notion of time. During the entire cold expanse of it all you are counting the days until you see the first blossom, shivering underneath your thermals as you yearn for the warmth you had cursed just a few months before.
And so time belongs to each of us differently.
Summer may have gone quickly but I did what I loved. And even with time and her steady metronome of turning our present into the past, and with only 3 weeks remaining until we all begin dreaming of hot cider and stews, my wish is that every season is filled with good memories, good people, and good food.
“Time” to go cook.
RECIPE: 5 Spice Candied Peach Personal Galettes
Sprinkle of cracked black pepper
2 T light brown sugar
Dusting of raw sugar
3 T heavy cream
1 package pie crust mix for 1 crust
3 large peaches, unpeeled
4 T butter
RECIPE: Ling Cod with Butter Braised Oyster Mushrooms over Honey Thyme Sweet Potatoes
1.5 lbs fresh ling cod, patted dry and brought to room temperature
2 ½ C thinly sliced oyster mushrooms (Make sure they’re dry before cooking
1 ½ C Cipollini onions
3/4 C (12 T) salted butter
Several sprigs of fresh tarragon
3 T light oil
A few slices of fresh lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
Fresh lemon juice to drizzle at end
Fine parsley micro-greens to garnish
¼ C good chicken stock or white wine
3 large sweet potatoes, about 3 – 3 ½ C, diced small
1/8 C honey
3 T salted butter
3 T heavy cream
Several sprigs of thyme tied together
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 12” saucepan, melt 4 T of butter and when hot and foam on butter begins to recede, add the onions. Let sear until partially caramelized. Remove from pan. Add the other 4 T butter and the mushrooms while the pan is very hot. Cook until browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Now, put the fish in the oven. While it is cooking you can now add the onions back in to the saucepan with the mushrooms, and season generously with salt and pepper and then deglaze with the stock. When reduced by half add the last 4 T of butter and turn to low. Let simmer until ready to plate.
METHOD SWEET POTATOES:
Bring 10 C of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and nestle the thyme on top. Boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme. Drain, and add the butter, honey, cream, and salt and pepper. Mash with a fork to make rustic potatoes or use an immersion blender to puree. Do not over mix with the blender or they will be gummy. Serve under the baked cod with the mushrooms and onions.
RECIPE: Roasted Mini Peppers Stuffed with Chicken, and Cheese with a Green Goddess dressing.
Click here for printable version.
4 T good olive oil
1 C chopped fully cooked grilled chicken breasts (prepackaged) I used an organic choice from Publix
½ C fresh grated asiago cheese
2 heaping T mayonnaise, or enough to bind the cheese
2 t herb seasoning. I used World Market Smoked Peppercorn Sage Rub
Handful of chopped cilantro
1 t kosher salt and ½ t fresh cracked pepper
¼ C green goddess dressing to garnish
Storms, laughter, nourishment, and beauty. My Girl's Weekend at Grand Beach was all of these and more.
"Yes, Tricia. I will be there for our Beach Girl's Trip!" I had said last fall, quickly answering a heartfelt email from my lifelong friend who needed to gather all of her most special women together for a rendezvous at the water's edge. The condition was I wanted to be the chef for the whole weekend. I wanted to nourish all these friends; these women who have been my safety net for almost 30 years. She accepted my terms without hesitation.
As you might guess, I set about getting the lay of the "kitchen," so to speak. Locating the tools, arranging the food, and reviewing the handwritten menu I had scrawled only the day before so everything was poised for perfection.
I love a 180 degree shift in food planning. It is my favorite thing to create a meal on the fly. Taking stock of our food inventory for the weekend, which included a few stand-by items, I knew I could put together our feast that night with just a few extra groceries. So after heading to the local market, I purchased some lovely ground turkey, and the ladies bought a few more bottles of wine, along with a bag of perfect Yukon potatoes. Nada decided she would make her famous crepes for dessert, and we were all salivating by the time the first appetizer was served.
Then, while it was simmering, I was summoned to the dining room. It was there I would experience the biggest surprise in a long time. I was presented with an apron, signed by all, as a thank-you for nourishing them during our trip. I was so honored, so caught off guard, so danged excited! Ladies, we all know it. Nothing is stronger than a tribe of true friends!
After a trip to Three Oaks, MI for Bourbon tasting and shopping, we settled into our last night of food. Since we felt stuffed, I decided on a meal that represented our affliction by serving spinach and artichoke stuffed chicken breasts, and a colorful side of brandy roasted root vegetables.
As approach the end of this food journey, we close with a satisfying frittata, served with beautifully ripe fresh fruit and some of the remaining scones. Simple, flavorful, and celebratory. An apt closing for a culinary week that will long be remembered.
Thank you ladies for your honesty, your willingness to be sous chefs, for keeping my wine glass full at all times, and for letting me bind our memories to nourishment and love.
Over and out. Kitchen empty. Hearts full!
"Oh, sure, sure. You make it look so easy, Camine."
Because it is... When I arrived at the market, I had planned to make almond dusted baked cod, but the cod at the market smelled fishy. Which, fresh fish should have no smell at all. Do you understand? There should be no odor other than a briny freshness. (Yes, I should do a blog just on choosing fish. Stand by!) So, then I had to keep looking. And when I saw this exquisite trout in the case, which was firm, and perfect, and FRESH, I thought how lovely it would be to poach it. Plus I already had coconut milk in my cart.
Then I got all geeky and excited about flavors, (because coconut milk is such a great flavor vehicle.) So I decided I would add some mint and basil, and the perfect curry. And then sear some orange peppers with shallots, and... boy that butter lettuce or gorgeous! (By the way, found these filets and more at Sprouts in Ballantyne in Charlotte NC. Awesome place!)
Mint, Curry, Coconut Poached Trout
4 T each finely chopped fresh basil, and fresh mint leaves
1 13.5 oz. can full fat coconut milk. (Lite can be used but it won’t work as well.)
¾ t high quality curry powder. I used Penzeys brand
Juice of ½ a lemon, or about 2 t
¾ orange pepper cut into thin strips
½ small shallot cut into thin slices
2 T grape seed oil, or other light, high-heat oil
3 T salted butter
Appx 2 t kosher salt and 1 t black cracked pepper
1 ½ C cooked tri-color quinoa
Empty the coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Whisk to incorporate the fat and milk together if it has separated. Microwave for about 30 seconds to warm. Add about 2 T of the chopped basil, 2 T of the chopped mint leaves, the lemon juice, the curry powder, and a generous ½ t of salt and about ¼ t black pepper. Whisk well. Stir and set aside.
In a large metal sauté pan, heat the oil to shimmering. Add the shallots and orange pepper and then lower heat to medium high. Stir until shallots are wilted and barely begin to brown. Remove and set aside. While pan is hot add the butter. When melted add the trout, skin side down to sear. Starting with the skin side down will make it easier to flip the fish. When you see a slight bit of opacity on the outside edges of the flesh of the fish, after about 2 minutes, gently flip the fish over with a long and wide spatula so that each filet stays intact. Lower heat to medium high, and add all but about ¼ C of the coconut milk mixture. (That’s just how it worked out! I didn’t need more…If you are adding additional filets and cooking for 6, you can use all of the herb-curry-milk mixture.) Let the fish poach in the liquid for about 4 minutes.
To serve place a bit of the quinoa on the plate. I recommend a bit of a bowl-type plate like a bistro plate, because the sauce is thin and you don’t want it running away from the food. You want it floating there under the fish. Now place a filet on top of the quinoa, and then top with a serving of the peppers and shallots, dividing what you cooked evenly on all plates. Ladle the sauce that is in the pan over the fish letting it puddle at the bottom. Then garnish with the rest of the chopped mint and basil. -- Serve with a Pouilly-Fuissé, or dry Rosé.
Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
Apple Butter Walnut Spice Cookies
Apple Rice Salad
Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
Bad Experiments With Food
Bing Cherry Cookies
Bourbon Bread Pudding
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Brown Sugar Chicken
Brown Sugar Pork Ribs
Cantaloupe And Oranges
Coffee Chili Steak Rub
Cognac Roasted Veggies
Cold Vegetable Salad
Cooking With Friends
Cooking With Wine
Cranberry Chocolate Cookies
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Enchilada Hand Pies
Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
Granny Smith Apples
Grapefruit Pear Slaw
Herb Butter Roasted Chicken
Herbs De Provence
Lake Norman Magazine
Lemon Cream Sauce
Lemon Crumble Bars
Lime Ginger Honey Syrup
Maple Bourbon Plum Sauce
Mini Pepper Poppers
Mint Caper Salsa
Nectarine Spice Cake
No Bake Cookies
Orange Cheesecake Squares
Orange Rosemary Glazed Tri-color Carrots
Paula Deen Quick Rolls
Peanut Bean Sprout Fried Rice
Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Mousse
Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Pork Or Chicken Salad
Pork Ramen Stir Fry
Port Wine Reduction
Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake
Pumpkin Buttermilk Glaze
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Radish Fennel Salad
Rice-a-roni Beef Soup
Roasted Beet Salad
Rules For Dieting
Slow Roasted Chicken
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Southern Fried Chicken
Speculoos Cookie Butter
Spicy Orange Chicken
Stuffed Puff Pastry
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweet Pickle Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Pancake
Thai Peanut Sauce
Turkey And Ground Beef
Twisted Puff Pastry Rounds
White Wine Cream Sauce
Yellow Split Peas