Monthly Archives: April 2012

Straight from San Francisco Fame–Joe’s Special


Joe’s Special

Serves 4 to 6

Having lived in the Northern part of the San Francisco Bay Area a great part of my life, the wonderful tales of recipes of that area from the “bye-gone” days became a great part of my life.

I had often frequented Original Joes in San Francisco which originated in 1937 so this was one of my favorite dishes. The restaurant started in the Tenderloin District of “The City” and had sawdust-covered floors and 14 bar stools.  It was known for serving people from all walks of life: ”from the head politician to the head prostitute”. It’s now located in the North Beach area and the Tenderloin spot will be made into an historical significance. It’s run by the same family, the Rodins.

I made this dish at home very often.  Now it’s part of the CA for Visitors Recipe Collection on the CA visitors web site.  I had often heard that this dish really originated from the gold rush days, however, that was definitely before my time and I did first have it at Joe’s.  Sometimes I make it for dinner; other times for brunch or breakfast.  It’s always delicious and very versatile.  So here it is:


1/4  C. Olive Oil

1 lb. ground sirloin of beef

2 onions, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

half a lb. of sliced mushrooms

1/4 C. cooking sherry

2 C. fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

4 to 6 beaten eggs

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

1/4  tsp. of oregano leaves

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp. Parmesan cheese


1.       Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and add the crumbled ground sirloin, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Cook until the beef is almost browned and the onions and garlic are tender.

2.       Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft.

3.       Add sherry to the mixture, heat about a minute, and stir in spinach and seasonings.

4.       Cook the mixture until just heated throughout.

5.       Add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until the eggs are firm but still tender.

6.       Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Serving Suggestions:

Joe’s Special is traditionally served with sourdough (San Francisco of course) French break and a hearty Italian red wine and sometimes a green salad.  It is also often served as a high-protein breakfast dish with a toasted sourdough English muffin, OJ, and for an especially filling meal—hash browned potatoes on the side. Many people also like it served with hot pepper sauce.


Cooking Methods:

You can stir this dish constantly while cooking the eggs, which will result in the eggs being completely blended with the spinach.  Stir it less often after the eggs are added, like you would if you were making scrabled eggs, if you would like to have discernable pieces of scrambled egg in the dish:


Swiss chard or one packages of frozen chopped spinach can be substituted for the fresh spinach.


Canned can be used; however, fresh is SOOO much better.

Ground Beef:

If higher fat ground beef is substituted for the ground sirloin, you can use less olive oil.


Romano cheese can be substituted for the Parmesan.


Another Bouillabaisse–the 15 minute version-And It Features Fish


15- Minute Bouillabaisse

(Thanks to Sam Gugino in his Cooking to Beat The Clock cook book.)

Serves 4


8 Tblsp. olive oil

1 medium onion—peeled and quartered

4 cloves garlic—-peeled (save one for the Rouille.)

1  15-oz. can chopped tomatoes, drained or 1  15-oz. can whole tomatoes drained and coarsely chopped

2   8- oz. bottles clam juice

2 tsp. ground fennel (or seeds is OK too)


1/2 tsp. saffron threads or ground saffron

3   4-oz. pieces monkfish or swordfish (Tillapia works OK too)—cut fish pieces in half

3   4-oz. pieces halibut, snapper, or sea bass—but fish pieces in half

8  oz. cleaned squid bodies cut into rings (since I don’t live near the ocean, I use shrimp that has been mostly defrosted if frozen.)

For the Rouille:

1 small French baguette

¼ C. roasted bell peppers from a jar

1 egg yolk


1.Put the onion and 3 cloves of the garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse till chopped.

2. Put 1 tblsp. oil in large deep heavy skilled over medium-high heat and when oil is hot, raise temperature to high and cook onion and garlic in it.

3. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, fennel, and S&P to taste to the skillet.

4. Over the skillet, crush ¼ tsp saffron between your fingers or use ¼ tsp ground saffron.

Stir well, cover and bring to boil.

5. Then reduce heat to medium, add the fish, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the squid or shrimp for the final minute.

6. While the seafood cooks, turn the broiler on to high in preparation to toast the bread. If you wish to turn the broiler on at the beginning of cooking the bouillabaisse, do that. Cut the baguette on the diagonal into 9 half-inch slices.  Put eight of them on a baking sheet and toast both sides in the broiler, about 1 minute on each side.

To make the accompanying rouille:

1. Drop the remaining garlic clove in the chute of the food processor with the motor running.

2.Stop the motor, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatulas.

3.Add the roasted peppers, egg yolk (or ¼ C. egg substitute), reserved bread slice and the remaining ¼ tsp. saffron.

4. Puree, then, with the motor running, gradually add the remaining 7 tblsp. olive oil through the chute until the mixture has the consistency of mayonnaise.

5. Season with salt.

(I do the whole rouille in a blender and it turns out just fine.)

How To Serve:

Divide the seafood and broth among 4 pretty soup plates.  Spread the rouille on the toasted bread slices and put 2 slices on top of each soup plate.  Serve the remaining rouille in a bowl at the table.

Chicken Bouillabaisse


Chicken Bouillabaisse

What did Venus feed to Vulcan? A bouillabaisse soup.  This kind of soup was made in mythology as well as in Marseille by the Phoceans around 600BC.  The name comes from the method of preparation because the ingredients are not added all at once.  The broth is first boiled (bolh) and then the different kinds of fish are added one by one and the heat is lowered (abaissa).  Well the fish variety is delicious, but you can also make a Chicken Bouillabaisse.  The sauce is delicious!!!!  I have my cooking idol to thank for this: The Barefoot Contessa.  But I did want to share it with you in case you haven’t discovered it for yourselves.


1 (4-5 lb.) chicken, cut into 10 pieces


1 Tblsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves (I used dried)

Olive Oil

1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1 Tsp. saffron threads (I bought the $7.00 variety that comes in little packets)

1 Tsp. whole fennel seed

1 (15 oz.) can tomato puree (I liquefied in blender a 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes)

1 ½ C. chicken stock

1 C. dry white wine (I used dry vermouth)

3 Tblsp. Pernod (I took 3 Tblsp. Vodka and soaked 1 broken star anise in it for several hours.)

1 lb. baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved

Rouille, for serving—recipe follows

Crusty French bread for serving


Wash and pat dry chicken.  Season it generously with S&P and rosemary.

Heat 2 tblsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and brown chicken pieces until nicely browned all over (about 5-7 minutes).  Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside.

Lower the heat to medium low and add the garlic, saffron, fennel seeds, tomato puree, chicken stock, white wine, Pernod, 2 tsp. salt(I used much less) and 1 tsp. pepper to the pot.

Stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degree.

Carefully pour the sauce in a food processor or blender fitted with steel blades.  Puree until smooth.  Return the sauce to the Dutch oven; add the sliced potatoes and browned chicken pieces with their juices; stir carefully.

Cover the pot and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until potatoes are tender and the chicken is done.

Serve hot in shallow bowls with big dollops of Rouille and slices of crusty bread.



4 garlic cloves

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 ½ tblsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. saffron thread

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 C. olive oil

Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender fitted with steel blades.  Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes; process till smooth.

With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. (I actually put everything in the blender and it came out fine.)

Put rouille to a serving bowl and store in the frig until ready to serve.


The Food Network Kitchens caution about using a raw egg yolk because of the SLIGHT risk of Salmonella, etc.  To reduce the risk, they recommend that you use fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells.  (I’ve used raw egg yolks forever and have never had a problem; but I guess there could always be a first time.)

Taco or Tostada? (a breeze to fix and oh so good)


I love Mexican food and I fix many varieties of it in my home.  I’m sure I’m doing it totally non-traditionally, but my spirit Mexicana is there.  You may already fix these wonderful Mexican dishes in the easy, quick way I am going to describe, but if not—here is my muy facil Taco or Tostada recipe. 

Taco  or Tostada ?  (a breeze to fix and oh so good)

This serves one

One 8”( non-stick preferably) round pan-also great for making crepes

One small corn tortilla (I prefer the kind with no lard)

Stir fried ground turkey or ground round—about ½ to ¾ cup worth

Shredded cabbage or lettuce (I prefer cabbage)

Several tablespoons worth of Chipotle or regular Salsa-I like the medium heat

Several heaping tablespoons of the mixed variety of Mexican cheeses

Several heaping tablespoons of Greek Traditional Plain Yogurt or Sour Cream

One egg is you wish for a more Huevos Ranchero mode of tostada

Several heaping tablespoons of black beans or refried beans if you wish

Several tablespoons of chopped Cilantro

Place pan on high heat and when you drop a couple of drops of water into it and they skittle across, non-stick spray pan.

Turn heat to medium.

Place one corn tortilla in pan and let brown.

Turn tortilla over, turn heat down to medium low, (and place the beans if you wish), ground meat, (break an egg on top of this if you wish), top with salsa, cheese, and some of the cilantro.  Place a top that fits on the pan and let cook for several minutes until cheese is melted and if you have used beans till they are warm and if you have used an egg, till it is done.

Remove and serve topped with shredded cabbage/lettuce, more salsa if you wish and final topping of yogurt or sour cream.

If you wish taco style, fold it that way.  If you wish the tostada way, serve it open faced.

You can use your imagination for this and top it with fresh tomatoes, etc.

Buenos Apetito

The “Old” Vine Street Inn–a collage of pictures


What an adorable bed and breakfast it was.  The home was built in 1887 and was located within walking distance to the downtown in Paso Robles, CA.  It was, and still is I believe, the only bed and breakfast located in Paso Robles proper and so close to the downtown area.  What a pleasure it was to own and run it for 5 years.  I loved all of my guests; cooking; gardening; and my lovely Anna who did all of the housekeeping immaculately as always.  Hugo, my toy poodle, was the perfect inn sitting dog.  He was hypoallergenic, didn’t shed, and loved people.  I think that my guests were more excited to see him than to see me.  When my guests would arrive at the front door, it was barely a glance at me, but “oh, Hugo” and they would attack and attach him in their arms.  Those were very glorious days indeed.  I miss inn keeping dreadfully, but I am so happy when I get to TempInnSit somewhere.


Margot’s Easy Fish Stew


Margot’s Easy Fish Stew

Serves 4

Have you found those wonderful 4 oz packets of frozen salmon, tilapia, sole, etc. at Albertsons—just $1 apiece? They are such an easy thing to keep in your freezer for a fast meal for one or more and they are healthy as well.  You can bake them as I often do: frozen and sprayed with a little olive oil and topped with a bit of lemon/pepper seasoning; placed within an oven proof dish lined with aluminum foil which I fold slightly over the fish; and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes—-delicious, nutritious and good on the tummy as well. I like it that way better than the microwave way—but a lot of people disagree with me about that.  However, here’s a dish that’s different and delicious as well.  I like it summer or winter:


Ingredients needed:

½ C. Minced Bacon

2 Large onions, roughly chopped

About 1 Lb. of Baking Potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes


1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves or 1/2 Tsp. Dried Thyme (I am ultra generous with the thyme.)

6 Cups Warmed Fish or Chicken Stock

12 Oz. of Tilapia (3 packets) cut into chunks

8 Oz. of Salmon (2 packets) cut into chunks and skin removed

(I leave both packets out for a bit before I cut the frozen fish)

10 Oz. Frozen Shrimp-slightly thawed

Juice of 1 Lemon

Minced Fresh Parsley for Garnish



  1. Cook the bacon in a deep saucepan on a medium high heat.  Cook until it’s crisp and remove with a slotted spoon onto a dish with a paper towel to drain.
  2. Keep heat on medium and cook onions in bacon fat, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are well mixed with the onions and covered with the fat.  Season with the S&P and thyme, stir and then add the stock and the bacon.
  3. Cook over medium heat without a cover until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the fish (until opaque but not falling apart) and the shrimp and cook without a cover for another 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Add the lemon juice and ladle into bowls.  Garnish with chopped parsley, serve, and bon appetite.

  Are you a frustrated, overworked or timid cook? Call Margot for help @ 721-3551

& please feel free to email her @ or to visit her blog for more recipes including these:

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.


Grapefruit Zabaglione Over Mixed Berries


grapefruit zabahglione (2)Grapefruit Zabaglione Over Mixed Berries

Serves 6

 This coming Saturday is Armed Forces Day. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to the men and women who serve with the United States’ armed forces.  Louis Johnson, who was the Secretary of Defense in 1949, announced the creation of this day to replace separate Armed Forces days and so the first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on May 20, 1950. I’m always in favor of celebrating our brave forces, so with that in mind, I think that a nice little red, white, and blue desert is in order and this one is just that:


3 C. Mixed Berries (such as quartered strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)

4 Egg Yolks

1/3 C. Sugar

1/4 C. Fresh Grapefruit Juice (I used the red kind)

Pink Kosher Salt

Grated Grapefruit Zest


  1. In a large bowl, toss the berries together.  Spoon the berries into serving dishes or glasses.
  2. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar, grapefruit juice, and salt in the top part of a double boiler or in a glass or metal dish that will act like the top of a double boiler. Beat the ingredients with a wire whisk until the mixture is a pale yellow.
  3. If you don’t have a double boiler, find a lower pan that is large enough to accommodate your upper bowl without the bottom of the upper bowl being able to touch the bottom of the lower pan. Place a little water in your bottom pan being careful that the top bowl or double boiler top DOES NOT touch the water.  SIMMER the water in the lower pan, being careful that it does not evaporate, and keep whisking the egg yolk mixture continually for about 4 to 5 minutes—or until the mixture has become creamy, thick, and about triple volume.
  4. Spoon the mixture over the berries and top with a sprinkling of the zest and a dab of Greek Yogurt.
  5. Serve immediately and voila, a lovely red, white, and blue delicious desert.

This is a dish that my mother made very often and it was definitely a favorite of mine. There are various varieties of it as follows: for the traditional Italian dish for desert instead of grapefruit juice, Madeira, Marsala or sherry is used.  For a more delicate flavor with a fluffier appearance, you can beat the egg whites until stiff and combine them after you have made your yolk sauce.  For the German version, you can place in a double boiler top 2 Cups of white wine, 1/2 cup of water, 4 unbeaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and continue as in the directions above.  It’s also a nice sauce to serve over or with pound cake.  Actually it’s such an easy and delightful desert to create and enjoy that one can now find different variations of it in many foreign countries. 

 Are you a frustrated, overworked or timid cook? Call Margot for help @ 721-3551

& please feel free to email her @ or to visit her blog for more recipes including these:

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.