Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow, Batteries, Food and Wine, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.

Saturday morning we awoke to thick snow. I think its still winter after all although we certainly haven’t had much of the white stuff lately. However, it didn’t last very long, the roads had melted by lunchtime and the rest is disappearing fast. Very odd winter indeed.

Toshiba batteryOK, I’m naïve, I had no idea a laptop battery only lasted 2-3 years. I thought, because one recharges them, they lasted forever. Duuuh. So now I have to buy a new one. I guess we have been spending money like its gone out of style with new furniture, tech help, super’s help, and now a new battery. Oy vay. They are incredibly expensive things, I looked into getting one with a 4 hour life once, no way, much too expensive for me, even a 2 hr. battery costs in the region of $100. OK, I’m in luck, my tech guy is getting me one for $80.

Saturday supper I did a Steak Dianne again, I am now officially bored with that andSteak Diane probably won’t cook it again for quite a few years. We opened a bottle of our Clos du Val Zinfandel to go with it. Excellent meal followed by a nice piece of brie which goes well with a good red wine. I will now be looking for nice recipes for fillets. I could probably take pepper steak one more time, not sure, but I need more recipes for steaks. Plain steaks are definitely in the boring range these days. Matt thinks I’m nuts but….

Judi DenchI was very sorry to read that Judi Dench is battling blindness as she has macular degeneration and is having problems reading her scripts and even seeing people she is with. I have seen what that’s like, we have a bowling friend who has similar problems. He still bowls well – bugs me, he can’t see and gets strike, I can see and don’t. However, I digress. I have loved Judi Dench for years and think she is wonderful. She got an Academy Award for Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love, she was a principal character in a TV series we loved called As Time Goes By, this was a British comedy series which is still being shown on PBS. Lately she has been playing M in the James Bond movies, and that’s to name a few things she has been on stage and screen for many years now. Apparently she is not thinking of retiring at the moment, she is 77. At the moment she has friends, family and her agent reading her parts to her.

Sadly my favourite programme has finished for another year, DowntDownton Abbey 2on Abbey, the last episode was on Sunday night. I have heard that Shirley McLaine is going to be in the next series. That should make it interesting so long as they can keep the story up to its previous standard. So far, it has been excellent. I understand it has won all kinds of awards and I am not surprised. It is certainly one of the best series I have seen in many a year. Funnily enough there is a new movie coming up this year called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Maggie Smith, who is in Downton Abbey, is in it as is Judi Dench.

I always enjoy Bruschetta and this is a variation on the usual.

Bruschetta Duet

Source: Quick From Scratch - Italian

Serves 4Bruschetta Duet

AdvertisementWe like the variety here--the same toast spread with two different toppings. The green-olive tapenade, which uses pre-pitted olives, can be made in minutes with a blender or food processor. The sautéed mushroom topping is equally savory hot or at room temperature.

8 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons butter

3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine

3 cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 smashed

1/4 teaspoon salt

Fresh-ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup lightly packed leaves

1/2 cup pitted green olives

1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice



In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil with the butter over moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms, the minced garlic, the salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the sage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Remove from the heat.

In a blender or food processor, put the olives, parsley leaves, smashed garlic, anchovy paste, the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Blend or process to a coarse puree.

Spread the mushroom mixture on eight of the bruschetta, and the tapenade on the rest.


Bruschetta can be topped with endless combinations of ingredients. Some of our favorites to try:
*Chopped tomato and basil
*Diced roasted bell peppers with crumbled goat cheese
*Drained canned tuna and capers
*Strips of Parmigiano-Reggiano
*A split garlic clove rubbed over the toast, followed by a generous drizzle of olive oil


  1. Jo, I didn't know that about Judi Dench--she's a fabulous actress and I'm not at all surprised she's not retiring.

    I'm in the same boat with a battery for the laptop. Ugh.

    Try marinades for the steaks. There's all sorts of good ones that gives a zing to steak.

    I love Brushetta and you're right, there is an endless list of topping combinations.


  2. Agree about Judi, think she is fab.

    Never thought of marinades, don't know why, will look for some I like the sound of.

    At least I am getting my battery at a good price. They are incredible expensive, especially as they don't last that long.

  3. I raise a glass of REAL wine to you. Cheers.

  4. Cheers to you too, I would love to raise a glass of chocolate wine. I also wanted to comment on your blog but couldn't see how to join.

    what could be better, chocolate and wine or chocolatewine.