Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cold Weather is upon us

Well, where some of you live maybe its been cold for a while now. Anyway here in Texas its Chili weather. I am sure its the same in your neck of the woods.
Our friend Bill Moran was very fond of a big ol bowl of Texas Red Chili so here is one of his recipes. I can tell you first hand he made some of the best chili in the world.

Original Bowl of Texas Red

"Note from" Bill Moran: If you notice this is not like your everyday now days chili. This is
the way it used to be and is the best way to make chili. The use of Chiles ancho
and chili meat instead of ground beef makes a world of difference. The suet is a
flavor maker . 12 dried ancho Chiles (New Mexico Chiles may be substituted)
4 pounds lean beef chuck, cut in thumb-sized pieces
2 ounces beef suet ("If you are under no diet inhibitions")
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
2 or more garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons chili powder (optional -- "If you want to be
adventurous and add more red color")
2 tablespoons masa harina ("To thicken or `tighten' the chili --
or settle for ordinary cornmeal or wheat flour.")
Wash the peppers and remove the stems and seeds. (Don't touch your
eyes.) Boil the pods in a little water for 30 minutes, or until the skins can
be removed easily. Then grind, chop or run through a colander the now
skinless , seedless , stemless pods .
Save the peppery water in which the pods were boiled. Use it for cooking
the chili and for adding water if necessary. Be as conservative as possible
with water unless you want th e chili to be soupy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goodbye to John

Yesterday my friend John died after a long battle with cancer. Those who know me know what a devastating loss this is for me. John was more than a friend, he saw me as I am and got it and loved me for me, the whole package. John was a very complex man, but I got him, too. I can't think of anything to say right now except that I will miss him and I still can't quite get that he is gone. Here is a poem he wrote for me when we were "broken up." I laugh at that because it happened often, but I am so glad our friendship was never ending. Rest now, my darling, now you see the whole of the moon.......

Regretfully, Out of Touch

I always believed in you,
Perhaps even more than you do.
I scorched your heart, as you did mine
Scar tissue never heals right and is displayed
Like a battle wound of a lost campaign
Neither won or lost, oh the emotional cost.
Was it worth it? The price paid was too much
And now, regretfully, we are out of touch.

You got so close to the inside of me
That I could never face, and feeling left out,
I often do, I run away.
I felt you were so cruel to mention
So often the times I hurt you.
I push away what I love and find it hard to trust.
Regretfully, we stay out of touch.

I remember the sweetness of your breath,
The touch of your caress that spring.
It was like a dream, so close so fast
Wanting to make up for lost time.
I lived in hope for a while, rejoicing your smile
And then the battle campaign began anew
Regretfully, we were again out of touch.

Longing to hold you and to be with you
As I braced myself for a new attack
Perhaps the battles were the work of myself,
Once again my insecurity haunts me.
Longing to feel your hair and see the intensity of your eyes
You sip Earl Grey, I don’t say too much,
Except, we are regretfully out of touch.

Excuse me for not sharing the happiness of your new find
Not being in that state of mind, not willing to claim what is mine
I wander through the thoughts and fears of letting go
The lies of omission will not go away.
To say I’m sorry is not enough and not knowing
How to make things right, do I resign myself
To be forever, regretfully, out of touch?

John A. Macdonald

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It is really hard to type a thank you, and convey the feeling that you have in your heart.

My friend Bill Moran was a veteran serving in world war two. Bill, I am grateful. Thanks to all that have served to keep us safe and free. And a big thanks to the ones that continue to serve for the same reason. Bill I miss ya man. CF

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Season of Sharing and Thanks

Today my friend brought me a lovely home made flan. Lovely, delicious creation it was. Flan is one of my favorite desserts and this one was one of the best I have ever had. I started to think of how nice it was to have this given to me for me and my family to enjoy and how this is the season of sharing and thanks.

It's been a tough few weeks for me. My home was burglarized and that creates a huge amount of problems in it's aftermath; but everyone is safe and stuff is just stuff. I also found out that my dear friend, John, who has been fighting cancer for about 4-5 years now is heading into the end of his journey. He was always a food and wine man, however, the last few years he has been a devout vegetarian and has perfected his meditations. It saddens me that I will soon lose my best friend, concert buddy, confidante, debater, baseball game companion, and one of the best boyfriends I ever had. Oh, and a pain in the ass, too. But so am I, so we made a good pair. But I digress...

From the day I met John (I saw him across a lobby and said to myself "I want him!" I think I may have even pointed , hehehe) we always had something to talk about. We both were from Texas but lived in NYC. We both were in the hotel business (however, I was in college studying to be a nurse when I met him.) John LOVED wine and good food. We had so many wonderful meals together, at so many unlikely places, from roadside stands to 5 star restaurants. He turned me onto things, and I him. Back and forth, back and forth, we were, about everything. Music (he never could stump me, oh how he would try! Teehee), wine, food, world events, views on life. Passionate is definitely a word that would describe our relationship. But with passion comes good and bad. Argue? Uh, yes. Do anything for each other? Of course!

One debate we would often have is the topic of the taco. John was always cooking something, most mornings it was some sort of taco. Most evenings it was some sort of taco. I used to complain "Can we have something other than a taco?" John would take great offense to this since he saw every taco he made as a work of art, each different from the one before. John would ooo and ahhh over his tacos and I would just say uh, huh and eat them. It was almost a dance. He would use what ever delightful thing he had cooked recently as the innards to these tacos so, of course, he was impressed with them! And I must admit, they were darned good. Not that I would let on....

The last time I saw John, he came to visit me in July and we went to an Orioles game. He took pictures as he always does and I played handy assistant. It was wonderful; felt like I was wearing an old pair of favorite jeans. Whenever we would visit, the past year or so, we haven't really debated much. We share, he gives me "looks," I give him the "rolling of eyes," and we both knew that time was limited. As I write this, I tear up, fighting back the thought of what a loss I am about to endure. Who will I share with in the way only we can? The answer is: No one and everyone.

In this season of sharing and thanks, I give thanks for my friend John and all the wonderful memories I will have forever. I give thanks for all my amazing friends and all the experiences I have with them. And when I was presented with that beautiful flan today, I was reminded that sharing amongst friends is something that never stops......

OK, that's it for now. Just felt like sharing.....


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Means Root Vegetables! From Farm to Table!

The air has been crisp and chilly here in Baltimore lately, mixed with a bunch of rain. A bunch of rain is always better than no rain if you're a Texan. We had a very nice summer with cool nights which is not common here. I was almost sorry to see the summer go this year! But here we are in fall and all that it brings.

My sous chef and daughter, Stella, went to a farm last week on a school field trip. She came home with a bounty of root vegetables that she had picked herself. After school she presented me with a big bag of vegetables and dirt and I wondered "what am I going to do with all this?" Cook something, of course! Stella had turnips, radishes, white radishes, dill, a few carrots and a huge sweet potato. So, we got busy! Tonight we made a wonderful dinner. I wanted to show Stella what great things could come from the veggies she picked at the farm.

For an appetizer we had sliced cucumbers with a homemade dip using the dill. For our main course we made Chicken with Turnips and Dried Cherries. We also diced up that monstrosity of a sweet potato and roasted it with olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary from our garden. We will use the roasted sweet potatoes in a nice fall salad made with goat cheese and wilted baby spinach. The recipe is one from my friend Karen Macfarlane and we will post it tomorrow night after we make it. In the meantime here is the recipe for the Chicken with Turnips and Dried Cherries!

Chicken with Turnips and Dried Cherries

2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
4 Boneless skinned chicken breast halves -- (about 1. 5 each pounded between sheets of wax paper
1/2 cup All-purpose flour -- for dredging
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Turnips -- peeled/diced
1 small Onion -- chopped
2 teaspoons Maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon Dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup Chicken broth
1/4 cup Dried sweet cherries
1 tablespoon Chopped fresh parsley

Heat the butter in a large skillet. One at a time, dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and brown on both sides. Remove to a side dish and season with salt and pepper. Place the turnips in the skillet and cook, stirring, over moderately high heat until they are a light golden in spots; add the onion, reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, thyme and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the chicken, scatter over the cherries, partially cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through but still tender, about 6 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper, as necessary.Transfer the chicken to a warm platter, spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve piping hot.

We would have posted a picture of the dish, but my camera was stolen. Hence, here is a picture of my beautiful sous chef, Stella, in all her fall glory! I love her so; she is my heart and my soul and a very good cook! Grandpa would be proud!

Happy Fall from Nicole and Stella!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Breakfast" one of Bill's favorite meals

Bill (TexasChef) and I often talked about food, well OK we talked a lot about food. And about any thing else you can think about. Anyway, I know Pancakes was one things that he liked a lot. Here is his recipe for Pancakes copy from his book "Cookin Texan"

Seems there is always a place for pancakes for breakfast. Almost every
restaurant has them. Nothing like a short stack with few sausage
links and a fried egg to start your day!!!! My mother used to make what I
thought were the best don't we all? I prefer buttermilk pancakes with
lots of whipped butter and homemade syrup of whatever fruit I have
1-1/4 C. All Purpose Flour 1/8 - ¼ C. Yellow Cornmeal
2 Tsp. Baking Powder 1 Tsp. Sugar
2 Eggs 1 TBS. Vegetable Oil
½ Tsp. Baking Soda
Buttermilk (just enough to make batter thin enough to pour
Sift flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
Mix to blend baking powder and baking soda evenly. Beat eggs, then add
sugar and salt to eggs and mix. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and
mix only enough to moisten dry ingredients . Don't over mix. Add milk
enough to make consistency you like for pancake batter . Don't mind
lumps , if any. Rest batter for 10 to 15 minutes . Bake on hot griddle
(hot enough so a drop of water dances on it ). Grease griddle very
lightly between pancakes because pancakes absorb some oil.
Serve with a homemade syrup like raspberry puree syrup.
Now ya'll go make some, doesn't that look good.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Things Cardamom.....

I have been a little obsessed lately with all things cardamom. A friend turned me on to this spice, in it's singular glory, many years ago. Since then, every time I hear or see the word cardamom, my ears prick up and my eyes get big. You see, I love cardamom.

Cardamom is a spice that is in the ginger family and you can use it in savory dishes such as indian curries and in sweet dishes and pastries as the Scandinavians love to do. I'll take it any way I can get it. Cardamom ice cream, cardamom pods ground with my coffee beans for my morning french press, I even have cardamom mint body wash!

When I cook with cardamom, the first thing I do is take a big whiff of it, in what ever form I am using; it just seems to set the tone and puts a smile on my face. Cardamom evokes a spectrum of notes from heady to light, citrus to nutty. I feel it may be one of the most versatile spices out there. I was trying to think of what would be a good recipe to create for dinner with my friends this weekend at the South Jersey shore. Of course, seafood!!! I decided to make scallops since you can get them fresh at the shore this time of year. My mind twirled around the thought of what would complement scallops and cardamom well and this is what I came up with.

Scallops with Cardamom Orange Bourbon Cream Sauce

The results were amazing. The citrus from the orange brought out the cardamom's citrus notes and the bourbon anchored all the flavors. I served it with a clean cous cous (cooked with plain water instead of broth.) Golden raisins, dried cherries and pinenuts were added to the cous cous, adding a bite of sweet to the meal every once and a while. Sauteed minted sugar snap peas finished off the plate.

My friends and I enjoyed the meal tremendously. My friend Lynda came late and after eating her dinner kept coming back for seconds and thirds. I was then convinced that the meal was a success and my friends weren't just trying to be nice! The next evening a bunch of us gathered for a cook out and the leftover cold cous cous and gently warmed scallops were just as delicious as they were the night before. Here is the recipe, hope you, too, get on a cardamom craze!

Scallops with Cardamom Orange Bourbon Cream Sauce

  • 1-2 lbs. of fresh sea scallops, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1/2 T. green cardamom seeds lighty crushed with the back of spoon (you can get green cardamom pods and hull them to get the seeds as I did, making it fresher tasting)
  • 2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 T. bourbon
  • 3 T. orange zest
  • 3/4 C. heavy cream
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • salt
  • pepper

Lightly dredge the scallops in the flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Heat about 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet and when it is heated add 1-2 T. of butter. When the butter and oil mixture begins to sizzle (med high heat) add scallops and sear them about 4 minutes each side, depending on their size. Do not over cook, nothing worse than an over cooked scallop! Do only a few at a time as to not crowd the scallops in the pan. Take the scallops out of the skillet and place on a plate and set aside.

In the pan that you seared the scallops in, add a bit more oil and about 1 T. of butter. When that begins to sizzle add 2 of the 3 T. of orange zest and the cardamom seeds. Scrape all the bits and pieces in the pan left from cooking the scallops and stir all around with the seeds and the zest to make it fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and the bourbon and stir for for about 30 seconds to heat. Lower heat to medium and add the cream. Stir and reduce until the sauce sort of coats the back of your spoon.

Now at this point you have a choice of either placing the scallops in with the sauce and coating them with it or using the sauce to "bed" the scallops on the plate and for drizzling. I prefer the latter, but it's all personal preference. Either way, sprinkle the tops of the plated scallops with the remaining orange zest (this step is not to be forgotten because it really makes all the difference.)Voila! Sheer scallop yumminess! Enjoy and let me know how you like it!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baking Biscuits

In travels and research for his own knowledge and his cookbooks the Texas Chef made many friends. This recipe comes from one of them.

It is my intent to post some inserts from his cookbooks. Try them out you will be pleasantly surprised. So lets start off with the best. Heck, you gotta have something in your left hand Why not a really good biscuit?

Biscuits are and have been a part of Texas roadside Café, Cajun, and
Soul food for ages. I use this recipe because it is not only good but
representative of the product.
My friend Larry Crawford is living temporarily (2004) in Tulsa where
he is remodeling an old restaurant of his there. He is good at baking;
he says he got this from his mother.
2 C. Flour 2 Big TBS. Shortening
1 Tsp. Salt 4 Tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Tsp. Baking Soda Buttermilk
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Cut the shortening into the dry
ingredients until you have the consistency of rough corn meal.
Mix in the buttermilk gradually and stir until the dry ingredients are
just moist. The dough should pull away from the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl, dust with flour, and roll out and cut
out the biscuits. Bake at 400° for 10 to 20 minutes, or until just the
right brown.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Here I go, Dad!

My Dad, Bill Moran (the Texas Chef, http://www.texas-chef.blogspot.com/) died on July 23rd, 2009. I was on my way to see him in Texas with my daughter, Stella, but he died the day before we arrived. Stella and I mourned with my step family and our visit revealed so many things that one usually takes for granted. One is my most wonderful step family. My Dad's wife, Gloria, my step siblings, LuLu, Nilda and Roel all welcomed us as if we were blood. In our short visit we mourned, loved, cried, laughed, cooked, went to a wedding, and visited the cows at Roel's ranch. I love all of them and will never forget the love they showered on Stella and I. I learned family means love in whatever form it takes.

The second revelation was the amount of people that my dad touched in so many ways. He was a touchstone to many people, many who shared his love of people, food, and life. I had the joy of corresponding and talking with many of my dad's friends and it is because of their inspiration that I will try to carry on blogging where my dad left off. Bill Bradshaw and Bill Farrell, both friends of my dad, will be contributing authors.

I live in Baltimore, MD but have lived so many places I never know where to call home. My heart is pretty much three places: Texas, NYC, and Baltimore. I was born in Texas and you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl. There is something about the big, wide open spaces, the matching big, beautiful sky and of course, the blue bonnets that will always draw me back, make me want to take off my shoes and breathe a big sigh.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have NYC. I lived in NYC for 8 years from '82 until '90 and I had the time of my life. I had visited there every now and then with my mom since I was little but living there was a totally different animal. I always like to describe living in NYC as being linked into pure energy, if you are open to it. I would walk out my door everyday and just feel the energy in my veins; energy from people, experiences, history, you name it. I would walk around the streets of NYC and take it all in and breathe a big sigh.

My happy medium is Baltimore, MD. I moved here in 2000 in search of living in a place where I could be close to NYC without having to take a vacation, live a more city life, own a home and find work as a nurse (by the way, I'm a nurse.) I moved here not knowing anyone, but if you ask my friends, that is something that I like, not something I shun. Baltimore is such a quirky place, it fits me well. It is the place where I had my baby, Stella (my little Baltimorean with a Texan soul.) Baltimore has a little bit of everything and that I think is why I love it so much. One more year and it will tie Dallas as the the place I have lived in the longest.

As I set out on my blogging journey, I hope to continue my dad's vison but also have it evolve as my own. I love many things, so this blog may end up being a winding road of experiences, revelations, music, food, art and ideas that I just have to share! Wow, dad was on to something, this blogging stuff is fun already! So join me and my dad's memory as we walk down the dusty road my dad always talked about, the road called life, as we know it.

Nicole Moran Furney


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