After a big meal this light cake still disappeared easily. If you don't have spelt flour and you don't mind having a little gluten, substitute cake flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Separate 6 eggs.
Beat yolks for a minute.
Add 1/3 (to 1/2, depending on your taste) cup sugar, and 3 Tbls. powdered sugar
Add the zest of one lemon
Juice of that lemon
3/4 cup mild olive oil.
Mix together, and use the residue of olive oil in your measuring cup to grease a 9-inch (24-cm) spring-form pan.

1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup almond flour

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed, and minimally fold them into the batter.

Peel a tangerine and place it under a glass placed lip down on the bottom of the pan. Pour all the finished batter around the glass. Remove glass. Bake in prepared oven for 45 minutes.  Turn off oven, open door and let cake cool completely.  You may glaze the cake when you serve it, but it's not necessary.

Villa Napoli Pizza

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The woman standing behind the counter said the pizza was the best in town. Villa Napoli in a former fast food place was recommended to us by the nearby hardware store guy and he sounded trustworthy.  I am always skeptical if I have to order at a counter and wait why my drink in a paper cup is handed to me.

For the $1 tip given in advance she did bring the pizza on a steel tray with two paper plates stuck under it.  We were sitting outside, sipping from our straws watching the traffic go by on 64th Ave.

Plenty of spicy sausage, which was very good, was on top of a very nice, very white, light pizza dough.  The center was a bit running so it wasn't perfect to eat without a fork - none was offered. The crust had a little less substance and chew than some of my all time favorites, but cooked perfectly crisp on the edges. The tomato sauce was homemade and had a great flavor.   All in all a very nice pizza.

So, if you're ever between Simms and Ward Road on 64th Ave, and need good homemade food, Villa Napoli Pizza is reasonably priced and makes possibly the best pizza in the neighborhood, if not Arvada.

Quick Moules

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moules-frites-salt-banner.pngMussels are an inexpensive way to get a lot of seafood taste. With about $5, you'll get a pound, and can over-serve two people. And just a few minutes of preparation.

Thumbnail image for moules-frites-plate.pngRinse the mussels. If you purchase these in a grocery store they will already be cleaned several times and not still have dirt and sand in them. If you've found them yourself, you will need to do this yourself.

In a very large pot, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute a small onion in the oil. Add about 1 cup of dry white wine. When the wine comes to a boil toss in the washed mussels. When the first shell opens toss in the chopped tomato and basil. Give them all another minute on the heat and serve.

A warm crusty bread is an excellent accompaniment. Because there will be nice broth left in your bowl after eating all the mussels. Above we added some peppers from the garden and a garnish of green onions. And served them as is traditional in France - with French Fries.

Tomato Breakfast

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tomatoes2011.jpgOnce, in Spain, we were having breakfast and the guy next to us started rubbing big, hunking tomato quarters all over his toast, rubbing them until the skin came off in his hand. Then, he dumped salt, pepper and olive oil on the mash and ate it.

Later, we went out for tapas, and the whole table next to us started smearing tomatoes onto bread. We'll have one of those we said, of course, and soon my entire family was squeezing the meat out of the tomatoes with the help of the nap of the crusty bread.

If the skins won't come off -- meaning the tomatoes are old and not very good -- this isn't the method. But with my summer crop of tomatoes hanging so alluringly on the vine, they and great olive oil are the perfect candidates to go on my Seeduction bread, toasted.

This year we grew six different types of tomatoes. Eating one type per piece of bread really helps clarify the taste memory of each of these. Pictured are the small SubArtic Plenty, a small breed that does alright in cool temperatures and flourished through our cold July. They have never gotten very big for me, and aren't true early tomatoes so they are not my favorites for practical reasons, but their taste is clean, clear and sweet with just a hint of tart.

Thumbnail image for FiorentinoTomato.jpgThe heavy ribbed tomato on the left is a Costoluto Fiorentino, with a very sweet and very tart taste. Very meaty and the skin comes off nicely even when tucked in crevices. I didn't give these plants enough of a sunny home, so the ones that are ripe now are smaller than I hoped. Some more promising fruit is still on the vine.

To the right is the Black Russian that has produced so well for me this year. They riped with a purplish top on the green fruit then turn a deep violet red. The meat is equally saturated with color. The taste is sweet, only slightly tart, with a meatiness that hits the top back arch of the mouth like a steak does.  

BikeSpeerColfax.jpgHot days. So many tomatoes.

 tomatoOpalkaSm.jpgI picked the first few plum tomatoes. We have nine (4  San Marzano Redorta; 5 Opalka) plants in all and we hope they will make enough paste to last us all year. We've never grown the Redorta, and the Opalka were grown from seeds I saved from last year, so I wanted to try them before I bothered to store the lot. This first batch of plums, I made into gazpacho.

Sunday afternoon gazpacho for after the U.S. Pro Cycling finale in Denver August 28 - a perfect excuse.

We'd had a few Sierra Nevada beers up at the race finish, but were all pretty hungry after riding around to find the best race viewing positions. The food at the event looked good, but there wasn't that much shade, and besides I had the gazpacho made.

gazpachoMeal.jpgHere's what I did on the day before: dropped six tomatoes in boiling water. Turned the heat off below them, and pulled them out one at a time. Removed the skin, which I put in a stainer over a bowl. Then, I opened the tomatoes and scooped out the seeds, which I also put in the stainer. I cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and put them in a bowls with a chopped green (somewhat spicy) pepper, a garden-fresh cucumber diced, a red onion, a few tablespoons of basil, 3 small minced garlic. The tomatoes were making a juice while all the other chopping was going on, and I went out to the garden to see if there was something else.

chinesecucumber.pngFound a Chinese cucumber that is a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber. (This vegetable must be peeled because it has a fussy skin of little hairs all over it's exterior. My friend Sandy brought these seeds back from Chinatown last winter.  We grew them not knowing what they would turn out to be.)

To all the chopped vegetables I added about ΒΌ cup of olive oil, 1 cup water, 2 Tbs of dry white vermouth and the water that the tomato seed and peel made.  Just before I served it I added about a dozen ice cubes and let the gazpacho sit out at room temperature.

Martha was assigned the wine for this afternoon, after-race meal, and found that gazpacho is the wine pairer's nightmare. She brought a couple of Spanish reds (a Rioja and its cousin, a Tempranillo) and they were perfect.

CherryPeppers.jpgWe started with some previously marinated eggplant (with parsley/garlic/red pepper) and some green bean marinated in rice wine vinegar.  

We bought a pizza crust from a local pizzeria, Abo's, on the ride home. Stretched it into several pieces and grilled them. First on one side, then flipping them, and adding some chopped garlic, basil and rosemary from the yard. Then we grilled some eggplant rounds. When they were marked well on both sides we piled on cheese and a tomato slice. These were the garnish in the gazpacho that we served with the grilled pizza crust. Enough for six people. There were six of us and we had to share two pieces of leftover piece of semifreddo. It was cold and very frozen, and felt great on this hot afternoon.

Steak au poivre -- steak with pepper doesn't need to be a great cut of meat or a huge one. So it can be elegant, and inexpensive.  It's quicker and easier than making a hamburger, high in protein and good for the blood and a cold - last frost of the year - kind of night.

pepper_grindingDSC_6513.JPGGrind pepper, or crush a mix of peppercorns, which you can buy from Savory Spice Shop, in a mortal and spread out on a plate. Dry the steak and lay it on the pepper, press and turn. Press again and let it rest until you are nearly ready to eat. Julia Child suggests a half hour or three.

xHeat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp. of butter in a saute pan on medium high heat. The pan is ready when the foam of the butter starts to subside. Cook the steak for three or four minutes per side. Moderate the temperature between medium and high so that the butter/oil doesn't burn.

The meat is medium-rare when it feels slightly springy.

What does this feel like, you've probably always wondered. I heard a great analogy.

 steak-au-poivre.jpgRelax your hand, palm up. Poke or pinch the fleshy part at the base of your thumb. This is what raw/rare meat feels like. Now, press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb (make a little ring with those two fingers). Relax and poke or pinch the thickness of your hand at the base of the thumb again. This is what medium rare feels like. Press the thumb-tip to your first two fingertips and that's what too done feels like.

Keep the saute pan warm and add a little more butter if you can handle it, and then a little bit of cognac or good sherry. Serve the steak on a warm plate and while one of you is serving the rest of the meal, stir the sauce and finally pour over the steak.

Daube_ProvencalDSC_6810.JPGBeef Bourguignon is Steuart's all-time best, never-fail crowd pleaser, but he makes it all the time. Poor me.

For a Sunday night dinner with a couple of friends, he wanted to try something different. But thwarting him was a big piece of beef- the last of our cow from Pure Wyoming Beef -- waiting, thawed in the refrigerator.

Daube de Boeuf a la Provencial.
Marinate 3 lbs of beef cubes in 1.5 cups of dry white wine, or a light red, 2 T olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf, mashed garlic, 2 cups of thin-sliced onions, 2 cups of thin sliced carrots.  At least 3 hours (refrigerate if you're going to leave them longer).

Noon on Sunday: Preheat oven 300 F.
If your bacon is salty, boil it for a few minutes to remove salt. Chop 1lb of mushrooms and 1lb of tomatoes. Drain the meat in a sieve. Line bottom of casserole or LeCruset with bacon, add a layer of marinade and newly chopped vegetable  in the casserole, roll the beef cubes in flour and layer them on, add another layer of bacon and repeat until casserole is full or ingredients are exhausted. Pour the marinade and some beef stock over it all until liquid nearly comes to the top of the casserole.

Cook for about 4 hours.daube-provencal.jpg

Skim the fat of the top with a baster.

Using a fork mash ten anchovies and 2 T. capers to a paste. See first photo. Then add to  3 t. wine vinegar, 2 closes of garlic mashed, 1/4 cup minced parsley.

Add this to the casserole and put back in your low temp oven until ready to serve.

It's amazingly different from the rich beef stew from Burgundy.

We served it with roast potatoes, peas and a green salad. Plenty for everyone and left overs, too.

Wine to go with:  an Argentinian Malbec was incredible. We also tried a durif from South Africa -- not so good. Hearty was surprisingly better. The third bottle, a Zinfandel, went down just fine too.

For dessert -- a gluten free coconut cake. Now that's another story.

onion-soup-banner.jpgIt's a weekend and my husband is working on a project elsewhere, so I can take some time to make a few things for the workweek. One is French Onion Soup, which is better if left to meld in the frig for a day or two.

onion-soup.jpgCook 5 cups of sliced (long thin wedges) onion in 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil in a covered saucepan on low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to medium stir in 1 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. sugar and cook for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently until onions have turned an even deep golden brown.  (If you're making another dish for the week. You can prepare it here, while you're giving the onions the occasional stir.

When the onions are brown, sprinkle on 3 Tbs flour and stir for a few minutes.

Off heat, pour in 2 quarts of boiling brown stock (if you want a lighter tasting soup you may use a lighter stock like chicken or vegetable stock, but a beefy one is what is traditional). Add 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes or more. then set aside until ready to serve.

It will taste better the next day.

You've arrived home from work on a crisp evening, and you put the soup pot on low to warm. And turn on the oven. (Another reason this meal satisfies in March or those last persistent wintry, not quite spring nights.)  

Cut a couple slices of french bread per person, bake the slices in the oven for about 1/2 hour while you're reheating the soup. Brush with olive oil and turn half way through the cooking if you want, and just a minute or so before mealtime, grate Parmesan cheese on top and toast under a broiler until deep golden brown. Place the cheese toasts on top of the soup as you serve it.

You can also make biggish croutons by cutting bread in 1 inch cubes and baking them until they dry out, brushing these with olive oil, rubbing with  a crushed garlic if you like garlic. Put these cubes on top of the soup in the bowl, or a soup tureen if you serve soup en mass. Grate cheese on top and then toast under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown. Use hot pads to serve the soup bowls and set each on a place mat because it will be hot.

Well-made cheese is exceptional - shouldn't become usual. It's expensive, high in fat, but pleasantly high in calcium and protein, so it's not junk food. I like to think of it as a special treat, and serve it as the French do, after the main meal. If it's served as hors d'oevres, I can devour cheese like a bag of chips and neither one is very good for me.

Think of each cheese as one of the tiny items on the Tasting Menu at a swank and trendy restaurant. Select three cheeses that are similar but have subtle differences. The smallness of these difference will hone your attention to the unique qualities of each cheese. An ordinary cracker can carry the cheese to your mouth, but these crackers reformat your palette between bites.

Tasmanian Pepper Black Cocoa Crackers:
2 cups flour (spelt is good if you don't want wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder (very little is needed at high altitude)
2 Tbs. black onyx cocoa (Savory Spice)
1 cup water
2 tsps. Tasmanian Black Pepper, crushed. Reserve for the rolling
1 tsps. good salt. Reserve for the application just before baking.

Mix dry ingredients (reserve the salt and pepper) together with a wooden spoon and then add water until the mixture forms a dry ball. Some bits might not join in, and some flour may still not be absorbed, so sprinkle a few more drops of water on those and pull everything together with floured hands. You may not need all the water or you may need a touch more. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it's too sticky add a little flour to the bowl and roll your ball in it. It's okay to move the dough firmly to pull it together and work it a little to even out the texture, but you won't do your crackers any good by kneading them. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit. The cracker dough is happy to have a rest while it heats.

cracker-rolling.pngcrackers-uncut.pngI remember when someone first told me they were making crackers. The whole process felt burdensome, and I sometimes have that feeling, again, when I'm asked to make them. My crackers are so incredible that I am asked this often. But really the whole mixing process takes less than 5 minutes.

Rolling the dough is fun, and I divide this quantity of dough into four parts and roll the dough very thin, tossing on the pepper when I'm almost at the final thinness and rolling it in. Then I put the slab of dough on a cookie sheet. It you can't handle the dough - if it's really thin or delicate - just slide it onto the back of the sheet with a big spatula. The thinner the better the cracker, I think.

I spray the surface with a mister and sprinkle on the salt, then cut the dough in pieces with a pizza cutter.

Into the hot oven it goes, set timer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Roll out the next ball of dough. You can make several flavor by changing the topping at this point if you want. The cracker has backed long enough, if they will break apart easily. You will come up with a thickness and a doneness that you prefer as you make these and other crackers. After you've served them once, you'll want to make more.

crackers.pngServe warm, if you can, but they will last for days, just like any other cracker.

The cocoa is unsweetened but works to grab your attention with a subtle, lovable chocolate flavor. The special quality of the Tazmanian pepper is that it numbs the mouth. So, Taz pepper works as the perfect palette cleanser, but also forces you to slow down to enjoy all the other subtle tastes offered by the cheese, the wine that accompanies it and the starchy cracker. So, isolate the bits. Instead of trying to get a sample of each thing in one mouthful. This is a course to be enjoyed with small bites in separate parts. A drink of wine after finishing the end of a cracker. Eating the cheese off the top. There is satisfaction with getting the combos right, and each bite is a new experience.

oatmeal-banner.jpgOrganic rolled on the left; organic steel cut on the right. Rolled is cut, steamed and rolled through a mill; the one on the right is just cut. Both are organic; both $1.69 per pound in bulk at Whole Foods. Texture is the big difference. I like the crunchy version on the right

Here's how to make a sublime breakfast:

oatmeal-blueberries-yogurt.jpgToast 1/2 cup or so of oats for a minute in a good saucepan. Fill a 2-cup measure or jug with water. Pour a cup of coffee and relax, or just toast a few less seconds if you're impatient, then pour the water on the toasting oats. Stand back. Dress for work, relax, read a magazine, let the oat-water mixture come to a boil, boil uncovered for about 5 minutes. When you come to refill your coffee, turn it down to simmer, or set on medium if you're in a hurry. In 10 minutes, the steel cut oats are soft enough to eat - or leave for 20 minutes - 30 or more if you've put on a lid and set it to a minimum temperature. Whenever I'm ready, the oats are ready.

If this much cooking seems too much, soak the oats overnight. And the 10 minutes on boil is reduced in half. You just want it to froth a little and rehydrate the grain. Or make a big batch once a week and reheat a small portion with milk in the morning. You could microwave this, but using a pan doesn't take more time to boil liquids. If you're used to having sugar with your breakfast, you can add sugar or honey, or you might just try smelling the oats, especially as they cook on a cool winter morning, and see if you can identify some of the subtle smells and tastes in this grain. You might find it's sweet enough.

I often serve the oatmeal with a few frozen blueberry on top. I add a little plain yogurt and a little milk. 

For the breakfast pictured, I bought the absolute finest Bulgarian Pro-biotic Yogurt, (White Mountain Bulgarian), the sweetest blueberries available in winter - Whole Foods 365 brand, frozen wild blueberries and organic milk. And I decided to measure everything and see how much this gourmet breakfast cost me. For more, read how my breakfast is CHEAPER than packaged instant oats.