The Fish Market’s Cheezy Garlic Bread

Tony & I started going to the Fish Market restaurant in Del Mar way back in our college days at SDSU.  We’d go to the race track with a group of friends and then head over to “the market” (as we used to call it back then) for a few beers and a lot of oysters and their Cheezy Garlic Bread.  Truth be told, I’m not so much a fan of oysters any more, but the Cheezy Garlic Bread is still to die for.  We’ve passed on our affection for “the market” to our son Kyle who is a seafood addict.  He insists on going just about every time he’s home.  Now we usually go to the one downtown, a beautiful setting, right on San Diego’s bayfront.  They order seafood.  I order the Cheezy Garlic Bread.

Definitely not a low fat item, but oh-so-delicious…sourdough bread topped with a layer of oozy, melty Romano cheese gooeyness.  I clipped the recipe from the Union-Tribune many, many years ago and have made it numerous times since.  I’ve actually “lightened” it up just a tad by reducing the amount of mayo and Romano cheese…still not low-fat by any stretch, but worth every single calorie!

The Fish Market’s Cheezy Garlic Bread


1 loaf sourdough bread (I’ve used the long loaves and the round ones)

Garlic butter

1 stick butter, softened

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Romano sauce

3/4 cup mayonnaise (the original recipe called for a full cup! And, sorry, don’t use low-fat, it will not brown)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups Romano cheese, grated medium (the original recipe called for 3 cups!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare garlic butter by combining softened butter, parsley and garlic.  Reserve.

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the Romano sauce by hand.  Blend the mix to a smooth, paste-like consistency, but do not break up the cheese.

Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise (horizontally).

Spread the garlic butter over the loaves on the non-crust side, then spread with the cheese mix.

Bake on a baking sheet until golden brown.   Let cool for a bit until slicing and then ENJOY every single melty, oozy, cheezy bite!




Grilled Avocado

Grilled avocados have been getting a lot of press lately.  The August issue of on Appétit featured an article called “Hecho en Mexico”, about a group of “chefs, mixologists and pro surfers”…getting together for a “week of waves and open-fire cooking”.  Sounds good, right?  There’s a picture of a plate of grilled avocados with the description, “Know what happens when you grill an avocado?  You basically get smoky butter – not to mention the best guacamole ever.”  Tempting.  Then, a couple of days later, I’m paying a visit to my favorite foodtruck, MIHO, and on the menu, they have a salad with grilled avo.  I ask the guy on the truck what’s the deal and he says, “you have to try it…it just brings out the flavor of the avo, adds smokiness, smooth like butter and it turns them the coolest bright green”.  Okay.  Okay.  So that night I tell Tony we’re grilling avocados to use for guacamole.  He thinks I’m nuts (but of course he listens to me anyway!)   

First of all, they are so pretty, all bright green, with grill marks and they smell all smoky and buttery.  I mixed them up with a little lime juice, some seasoning salt and red onions and yes…The. Best. Guacamole. Ever.  EVER.

We’ve added them to the Chipotle Chicken Tostadas…amazing! You can fill the hole left by the pits with salsa and serve as an appetizer…scoop out the flesh with tortilla chips or pita chips.  I saw them on the menu at Kensington Grill, served as an appetizer with ancho chili vinaigrette & lime wedges, to spread on grilled bread.  I’m thinking next we’ll add them to a BLT, with applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes and arugula, on a thick slice of toasted egg bread.  (Okay, my neighbor Barbara just brought me a whole sack full of avos…guess what we’re having tomorrow night?)

 Grilled Avocado


Avocado (ripe, but firm, not too squishy)

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.

Remove the pit of each avocado by cutting into the pit with a large sharp knife and turning the knife counter-clockwise. Once the knife is properly wedged into the avocado pit, it should be easy to remove the pit from the flesh of the avocado, as you twist and remove the knife.

Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Brush each avocado half with a little of  the lime juice marinade.

Place each prepared avocado half, flesh side down, over the hot grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until grill marks appear and the avocado is warm, but not overly mushy.

Remove the avocado halves from the grill and let cool a bit.   From here, your choices are limitless.  Use your imagination.

Oh, and btw, just now see that brother-in-law STCG has a recipe for Chili-Rubbed Chicken with Grilled Avocados in his cookbook Just Grill This.  He says, “I’ll admit that grilled avocados sound kinda creepy, but they’re actually really good.”  There you go.  And I’ll be making that recipe too.

Dinner in the Cute Little Cabin in Idyllwild

This past weekend, Tony and I celebrated our anniversary.  About a month ago, we started thinking about a place to go, not too far from home, not too expensive, and where we could bring Lulu.

I remembered that one of our neighbors had told me about Idyllwild. And, just by coincidence, there was an article in the August issue of Sunset magazine about it. They described it as “hiking, jazz, art – this mountain town has it all…find the alpine magic…in the San Jacinto Mountains, just over the hill from Palm Springs, Idyllwild sits in a forest of mixed pines…offbeat galleries, antique shops…”. Sold.  AND…it’s only a two-hour drive from San Diego.

Tony, the vacation planner (vacation planner/gardener) in the family, started looking for dog-friendly accommodations. He found a cabin called “Starlight Seclusion”.  Sold.  We packed up the car and the dog and hit the road.

“Starlight Seclusion” far exceeded our expectations.  It was rustic and charming, quiet and cozy… secluded in a pine forest with views forever.  A huge redwood deck with BBQ and hot tub.  And a cute little kitchen with an adorable red and tan tiled floor.

Yes, we made dinner the first night in the cute little kitchen.

The menu? Steaks, Double Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Cheese and Caesar Salad.  The potatoes are from Bon Appétit, March, 2002 issue.  I’ve made them countless times since then.  I even “once-baked” and filled them at home, and packed them in the cooler to take with us.  I made the Caesar salad dressing ahead of time too.  The salad dressing recipe came from STCG’s mom, Joy, many, many years ago (back when he was just Sam, long before he was STCG, or even thinking of becoming STCG!)

It was a perfect weekend filled with hiking, reading, relaxing, stargazing and (of course) great food.

So, here are the recipes, from the cute little cabin in Idyllwild (and, please, don’t wait for an anniversary weekend to make them!)

Double Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Cheese


6 small russet potatoes (about 7 ounces each), scrubbed

5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
12 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 large green onions, chopped

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups coarsely grated white cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Pierce each potato in several places with fork. Place all potatoes directly on oven rack and bake until tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until beginning to brown, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Add green onions; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Using oven mitts as aid, cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop cooked potato flesh into large bowl, leaving skin intact. Add cream cheese, sour cream, and remaining 4 tablespoons butter and mash well. Mix in mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound mashed potatoes in potato skins. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoon cheese. Place on baking sheet. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Bake potatoes until heated through and cheese melts, about 25 minutes, or 35 minutes if potatoes have been refrigerated.

Sam’s Mom’s Caesar



1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces (or one 10-oz bag all-ready cut Romaine)

1 cup good-quality croutons

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


2/3 cup olive oil

juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (like Kraft “100% grated Parmesan” in that green can)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced


Combine all dressing ingredients by shaking in a screw-topped jar. Toss with salad ingredients in a large wooden salad bowl.

Gramma Lulu’s Potato Salad

As mentioned in my “About” page, Gramma Lulu was my first cooking inspiration. Among other things (like baking dozens & dozens of cookies and pies at Thanksgiving), she was the cook for all my grandpa’s Moose and Elk Lodge events.  She’d take my siblings and me down to the lodge, we’d drink Shirley Temples and watch her in the kitchen, making massive amounts of baked beans, fried chicken and potato salad.  Ahhhhhh…the potato salad.  My husband Tony says that’s the reason he married me.  Gramma Lulu’s potato salad.  When Tony and I married nearly 28 years ago (almost exactly, to the date, really, on August 19), my mom and grandma “catered” the reception, which included, of course, vats of potato salad.  Tony still bugs me to make it all the time.  I don’t do it nearly often enough.  And I don’t think the recipe has been written down until now.

So, in memory of Gramma Lulu and in honor of our 28th anniversary…

Gramma Lulu’s Potato Salad


6 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs.)

1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (MUST be dill pickles!)

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 cup (or thereabouts) Miracle Whip salad dressing (yes, it MUST be Miracle Whip!)

1 tablespoon dill weed (Gramma always used dill weed.  I sometimes use 1/4 cup fresh dill.)

1 teaspoon seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

6 hard-boiled eggs, divided (5 of them coarsely chopped and one sliced)



In a covered saucepan cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes or till just tender; drain well,  Cool, peel and cube potatoes.

In a very large bowl combine potatoes, the 5 chopped eggs, pickles, green onion, Miracle Whip, dill, seasoned salt and pepper.  Toss lightly to mix.  Smooth the top a bit and garnish with the sliced egg.  Sprinkle with a little paprika.  Cover and chill at least four hours (the longer the better…can be made the day before).  And then bring some over for Tony.

Fried Rice

Fried rice is best made with cold rice.  Leftover is even better (like after you’ve had Chinese take-out and you have rice left over).  If you’re cooking it fresh, let it cool before using.  Cooked rice freezes really well, too (see note at end of recipe).  This recipe is adapted from a Sunset Magazine “Chinese Cookbook” I’ve had for many years.  Copyright 1979 in fact.

And if I have any other veggies on hand, I’ll add them…chop really small and stir-fry for just a minute or two.

Fried Rice


4 cups cold, cooked long-grain rice

3 eggs

4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

2 whole green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup small cooked shrimp or diced pork or ham or chicken (I often use leftover BBQ ribs)

1/2 cup frozen peas (or peas & carrots)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

sesame seeds (for garnish)

green onions, diced small (for garnish)


In small bowl, beat eggs.  In a wok or wide frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium eat.  Add green onion and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.  Add eggs and stir until soft curds form; remove from pan and set aside.

Heat another tablespoon oil in pan.  Add shrimp (or pork, ham or chicken) and frozen peas.  Stir-fry for two minutes to heat through; remove from pan and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan.  Add rice and stir-fry for two minutes to heat through.  Stir in soy sauce.  Stir in shrimp (or pork, ham or chicken) & pea mixture.  Add eggs and fold in until they are in small pieces.  Serve, garnishing with sesame seeds and diced green onions.

Note:  Freezing Leftover Rice

When preparing rice, make extra. Packaged in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags, cooked rice will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, add 2 tablespoons of liquid for each cup of rice; cut small slit in plastic bag and microwave until heated through (about 2-3 minutes).