Spending my birthday in Paris with my daughter was a dream come true. We rented an apartment in the 10th arrondissement (a neighborhood which, it turned out, is a great food adventure), walked a lot, spent time at the Louvre, strolled in the Tuileries, took buses to find out where we were, became Metro mavens and met wonderfully French people who, we hope, will email or friend us on Facebook.
We petted their dogs and practiced our French. And, for the third time for myself and the first for Darcy, are here to tell you that there is nothing arrogant or cold about the French themselves. They are warm and funny and incredibly nice. And I can't wait to go back.
Until we return and dine at many more Parisian restaurants suggested by Old Saybrook's Linda Frankel and Chester's Priscilla Martel, I'll be cooking in my own kitchen and on my own charcoal- and propane-fired grills with the local vegetables, herbs, fruit and seafood that make summer on the Connecticut shoreline our own kind of Paris.
Lee's Favorite Potato Salad
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
5 pounds of potatoes (russets or Yukon Gold, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces, or unpeeled red bliss cubed)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
small bottle Wish-Bone Italian salad dressing (low fat is fine)
salt and pepper to taste
Hellmann's mayonnaise (low fat is fine, too)
In a large pot of water, bring potatoes to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain water and, in the same pot, toss potatoes with onions, celery, enough Italian dressing to give the potatoes flavor (about half a small bottle or a little more, to taste), a little salt and some freshly ground pepper. Allow to cool on the counter at room temperature for at least an hour, preferably two.
When cool, gently fold in just enough mayonnaise to make the potatoes somewhat creamy. Spoon mixture into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
This is one of those recipes that is so easy that my credibility is at risk. I am not sure when I first made this, but it was at least before PFM (Present and Forever Marriage) and maybe even during FM (Former Marriage). I know it wasn't before that, because I couldn't cook anything. Somehow I learned that you could use bottled salad dressing to make this chicken dish. I also figured out to make barbecued ribs using Catalina dressing. Don't ask. Here's the chicken recipe.
Yield: Serves 4 (with leftovers)
Set oven to 350 degrees.
4 chicken legs
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
one small bottle of Wish-Bone Italian salad dressing (low fat is fine)
Wash and dry your hands. Wash and dry chicken pieces and place in a Pyrex pan large enough to hold all the chicken pieces skin side up. Top with salt and pepper to taste. Shake bottle of Wish-Bone, open and pour dressing over chicken. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or longer.
About an hour before ready to serve, set oven to 350 degrees. Place pan of chicken, uncovered, in oven for 45 minutes. In the meantime, make a fire in your charcoal grill or turn on the gas grill to medium high (if using a charcoal grill, bank the charcoal so there is a high point and a lower-high point). Take chicken from the pan and place pieces on the grill. Grill 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
I remember once reading about the California Pizza Kitchen, but I had never visited one. So, when my daughter and I returned home from our vacation, friends asked if we would meet them at Foxwoods Resort Casino. They love this place and their recommendations are usually spot on.
We ordered no pizza, since they said pizzas are not as good as their appetizers. And let me tell you, the appetizers are just short of amazing. We tasted hummus, Thai chicken spring rolls, lettuce wraps (filled with wok-seared chicken with shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and scallions, my special favorite) and avocado club egg rolls, wonton wrappers filled with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and Monterey Jack cheese. We finished with a couple of salads. I can't wait to go back.
California Pizza Kitchen
Foxwoods Resort Casino
350 Trolley Line Boulevard