Tuesday, August 9, 2011

... you will be happy forever

"If you wait to be happy, you will wait forever.
If you are happy now, you will be happy forever."
- Sally Huss (c) 1990

Dear reader,

Suzette Anna (King) LaFleur, author of this blog and my loving wife, unexpectedly passed away on May 9th, 2011. Words cannot begin to describe my overwhelming sense of loss over the last three months. Instead, in this venue, I would write a few words about this blog and what it meant to her.

Suzee created this blog as a way to share our grand adventure of moving to Manhattan.  If you have read through the entries, you have had a taste of her passion for fine food, good music, and a love of life.  In the city, where every street held something to see or do - a new restaurant, shoe store, or street fair - she was truly in her element. Life was good and that is what she wrote about.

She was not immune to the hardships of the world around us, rather it was Suzee’s decision that this blog would be focused on the positive. It would be her affirmation to the world. There was just so much to be thankful for.

Suzee also found a new joy in describing for others those things that made her happy. People from around the world were reading her posts and cheering her on. It is true that a joy shared is a joy multiplied many times over.

I know that it would be Suzee's deepest wish that you would, in turn, celebrate your life and your love for each other. Take the time to find the magic in the day to day. When you find some joy, smile wide, laugh loud, and share it - be the messenger of joy that others can look to.

Wishing you well,

Rick LaFleur

p.s. Some links of interest for family and friends:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mike's Amazing Humus!

I asked my friend Mike to send me more recipes, and he quickly obliged. I was looking for something quick and healthy tonight, so I made this one - oh so delicious!

I have to say, my friend Ann has been a humus fan for a while - she'd buy those tubs from the deli section of the grocery store, and she really enjoyed them as a dip for veggies, or a spread for her sandwich. I'd come over and try a bite, and bleck. It seemed too stiff, kind of chalky, and incredibly bland. Plus the prepared stuff seemed to be just as high in calories as dips I really liked, so I never really got into humus. I just figured I didn't like it.

Then, while I was out a party at the South City Grill with Mike, Jessie and a number of other fun folks, we ordered a few appetizers, some of which included humus. Others were calamari, and fried zucchini and eggplant served with tzatziki (love love love this stuff!!) Oh and this amazing feta - just sliced with oregano and olive oil on it - so good! And it was an awesome party! Anyway - the humus was lovely and I enjoyed it. I also found enjoyable humus at The Silver Leaf Tavern - served with freshly baked flatbread. For a $2 nibble at happy hour, it's tasty with pinot grigio if they have any to pour. Oh and another fabulous place is Barbounia - the freshly baked just out of the oven flat bread served with the humus and other mediterranian dips is superb!!

So now I know - humus is like a chocolate chip cookie - you can have chips ahoy, but why waste the calories - go for the home made version, and you will be so much happier!

Here are Mike's thoughts on humus, and the fabulous recipe!

Humus in 5 minutes


If you ask 100 people where the origin of Humus came from you, you’ll get 100 different answers. The Israeli’s lay claim that they invented it while the Turks, Greek, Egyptians and every other country in the middle east will do the same. Who originally invented? Since no one truly knows, I’ll speak out and say I did. Why not? Everyone else is claiming ownership, I might as well throw my name into the hat. In the end, regardless of who invented it, it’s a quick an easy vegetarian appetizer that can be made in literally minutes and is very healthy for you.

The traditional way of making involved taking dry chick peas, soaking them overnight in warm water, and then boiling them down for 2 hours to thoroughly cook them. With modern technologies, food manufacturers do the work for you and the canned stuff is just as good.


One 16 oz can of chick peas (also known as Garbonzo beans). *
2 cloves of large garlic chopped down to small pieces
2 table spoons of Tahini (Sesame paste)
3 tablespoons of lemon juice (1 large lemon)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper
3-4 tablespoons of milk

* Brand choice for chick peas is Progresso. I’ve tried dozens of other brands such Bush, Goya and other brands but the best flavor seems to come from Progresso.

Add all of your ingredients into a food processor and puree until creamy. This may take 2-3 minutes. If your mixture is lumpy, add more olive oil as needed. There is no such thing as too much olive oil.

For the Vegans of the world, take the milk out and substitute with more oil.

Serve with toasted pita bread chips or veggie sticks.

So, I served this lucious dip with roasted carrots and roasted red and yellow bell peppers as well as some little crostini toasts I had left over. Yummy!!!
Note: the recipe's typo has been updated. 1 16oz can is correct. Initially I mis-read the recipe - I thought it was 2 cans of 16 oz garbanzos, but no, 2 cans of 8 oz, so my 1 can of 16 oz was just fine :) I had specially purchased the tahini, and will keep my eyes open for more recipes to use this delicious seseme seed puree. And I had lemons, and milk, etc. on hand. I hadn't heard of adding milk until Mike had it in his recipe, and I like it - it's not so heavy this way - very nice. Then I realized I didn't have any garlic - I know, how could that be? But it was. So I subbed some dried. It worked out pretty good! I'm sure the fresh garlic would have been even better. I will note that I used a nice extra virgin finishing oil in this - you know - that special oil you keep for salads, etc. Oh yes - so delicious!
This keeps great in the fridge too - whip up a batch - and share it with friends. Oh and while you buy the tahini, get some nice flatbread or pita too. Fresh though - not that stuff you find at the deli section with Ann's humus (LOL). If there isn't any fresh, you could perhaps try some naan - the Indian flat bread. I've seen that in the grocery, and it looks softer than the packaged pita. Unless of course you go the toasted route Mike suggests, then by all means, the deli pita is fine :) My favorite accompaniment continues to be the roasted carrots :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rick's Pineapple and Ham Appetizer

Rick had the idea the other night to have pineapple wrapped in ham - sweet and salty - one of my favorite combinations. I was shopping on the Fresh Direct web site (oh grocery delivery is a true gift of living in NYC) and I saw that capicola and thought, what the heck? I'd never tasted hot capicola ham before, so for that reason alone I had to order a bit.
Now, if you haven't had hot capicola ham either, it is SPICY! :) Luckily, my other favorite flavor combination is sweet and spicy!

I peeled and cored the pineapple, taking care to remove all the eyes - it gave me a good 4 cups of spears for it's $3.99 price. We'll enjoy it without the ham as well!

Just wrap the spear with a small piece of ham, and secure with a pick. I got these bamboo picks from Pearl River Mart if you find yourself in town :)

I wanted a dipping sauce as well, so I took 1T of sour cream and added a couple shakes of cumin and a couple shakes of coriander, and mixed it up. Very nice :)

I know this is a crazy combination of foods - ham from Italy, fruit from the Pacific Islands, and spices used in Spanish and Turkish cooking, but somehow it works :)

What are your "strange and flavorful" combinations???

Monday, March 21, 2011

Amaretto Pear Crisp

Doesn't that close up look so delicious? The caramelization on the side of the baking dish, the whole rolled oats, and the peary sweet juice between the lumps of fruit.

OK - yeah, I'm tooting my own horn, but I was feeling extra inspiration today - not allowing Rick's software implementation get in my way - haha!

I took my very very ripe bartlett pears (my absolute favorite variety) and I cored and cut them in pretty large chunks, with the skin on. They were so ripe, the skin was as tender as the flesh, so I wanted that extra fiber.

Here are the ingredients:
4 incredibly ripe bartlett pears, cored, chopped with skin on
2T amaretto
1/2 a stick of salted butter (1/4 C)
1/3 C light brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1/3 C old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 t all spice

I combined the chopped pears and amaretto and placed them in the bottom of a baking dish - maybe a 7x9".

I combined and cut the cold butter with the brown sugar until the butter is the size of peas. Then I stirred in the remaining ingredients, and spooned it over the pear amaretto mixture.

Pop it in the oven for an hour at 350. Try to let it cool before you jump in there. To guild the lily, add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy! We sure are!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tequila Suzee

I'm always looking for a new cocktail that uses ingredients that I like to keep at home, and the Tequila Suzee is right up my alley :)

Add 1 part white tequila (I like Hornitos)
1/2 part Cointreau
2 parts fresh grapefruit juice (or the Tropicana with pulp)
a teaspoon of sugar
and a grapefruit twist

Shake it all with ice and serve in 2 pretty glasses. I like to add the ice I had in the shaker too!
What are your favorite flavors to add to tequila?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preserving Herbs

I ordered some rosemary and thyme and garlic this week from Fresh Direct. They always give a nice bunch, but they use these crappy vented bags which essentially render the herbs useless within a day or 2. Less than a day for delicate herbs.

I wanted to use these on a roast beef, and maybe the rest later in a white bean dip. I plucked the leaves from the rosemary and the thyme stems, and washed them. I popped them in my mini chopper with a head of peeled garlic and probably about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

I took half and spread it on my roast beef and set it to marinate. The remaining half I spooned in 2T portions in ziplock sandwich bags, which I then popped in a freezer bag. I seriously hope these frozen bits work well in the future. I really hate throwing away food.

Have you done anything to preserve cut herbs for use in the future?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Suzee's Cucumber Martini

I've written at length about my love of the cucumber martini. My favorite is at the Banc Cafe - they make their own cucumber vodka with Ketel One and yes, cucumbers. A kind of mascerated love juice that is so delicious.

I don't think I can maintain a supply of cucumber vodka like the Banc Cafe, and I don't get to go very often, so I'm looking for ways to introduce a cucumber martini more frequently than 2 or 3 times a year. This isn't quite it - perhaps you all have some ideas to make it better.

I made a cucumber juice to create the martini - I blended a whole english cucumber (but I recommend you peel yours) with about a half cup of water. I strained it and used it in this drink. I think next time I would puree the cucumber without the water.

3 parts Belvedere Pink Grapefruit vodka (this is what I have!)
1 part St Germain liquor
4 parts cucumber juice
juice from a wedge of lemon
Shake with all your might with ice cubes!