MAH JONGG CAN MAKE YOU RICH…AND NOT JUST IN MONEY!

I received an email today from my dear friend J. With the email came the photo below and an explanation. J has been playing Mah Jongg for the past few months with a very experienced and fun group of women who have a $30 pie and with the values on the card doubled up to the nearest quarter. While cleaning out her closet, and the purses inside, she came across her most recent winnings. WOW!!! Check out all of her winning coins and bills!And who says that Mah Jongg is a waste of time?!!!

But there is more to this story…just to show you that J is into the game not for the money (even though that is always an additional benefit) but for the friendship that we all enjoy when we play. She is now also in a group with a $4.00 pie. This week she won $2.00 and is as proud of those winnings as she is with all of the money in the photo because the people in this group are so special. Let me say it again…Mah Jongg people are the best!

Just remember…And the most important thing to remember:

OMG…

I am LOVING my Mah Jongg zipper pull  – from Gehazi Collectionson my straw bag. I need to get more to put them on all my bags…and luggage…and my MJ coin purse…and EVERYTHING! Too fabulous!!! 

MAH JONGG LUNCHEON RECIPES

As promised, here are the recipes from the Mah Jongg luncheon given in honor of Toby Salk’s visit to NYC and Gail K’s birthday. 

SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP  – New York Times recipe

Yield 2 – 3 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 12-ounce bunch fresh spinach, finely chopped (or 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and finely chopped)

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or shredded

4 ounces sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt

¼ cup pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until it’s softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add spinach to pot one handful at a time, letting each handful completely wilt before adding the next. Add crushed red pepper, if using, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated (no need to drain), about 3 minutes. Add artichokes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, just to take the raw edge off the artichokes.

Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese and mozzarella. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir until all the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Stir in sour cream and pecorino, and season with more salt and pepper. You can certainly eat this dip straight from the pot (or transferred to a serving bowl), but running it under the broiler for a crispy top is also an excellent option. To do so, transfer dip to a small ovenproof skillet (6 to 8 inches). Place in oven and broil until the top is golden and the dip is bubbling, 5 to 8 minutes. Let sit a minute or two before serving.

ROSEMARY CASHEWS – Barefoot Contessa recipe – these are SO fabulous and SO easy to make!

1 pound roasted unsalted cashews

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes.In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and butter.Thoroughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm.CHILAQUILES  – recipe courtesy of Brian Albert at the Old Chatham Country Store

4 chicken breasts shredded

Mild enchilada sauce

Monterey Jack cheese

Tortillas (use a top quality chip – preferably made to order)

Green chiles

Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with a nonstick spray.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

To build the Chilaquiles:  Start with a layer of enchilada sauce on bottom of pan. Add a layer of crushed tortillas and push them down into the sauce. Next, a layer of shredded chicken topped by a layer of cheese; again, push it down then put on one layer of green chilis. Repeat starting with the enchilada sauce, chips, chicken, and cheese  – continue layering for 4 layers and finish with a cheese layer.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Check to make sure cheese doesn’t burn. Cover with foil for last 15 minutes.GUACAMOLE – Barefoot Contessa 

Makes 3 cups

Keeping guacamole cold in the refrigerator keeps it green. Cover with plastic wrap flush with the guac.

4 ripe Haas avocados
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
8 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. (I use my hands.) Immediately add the lemon juice, Tabasco, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

If not serving immediately, refrigerate it in a bowl with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to keep the air out.

***I don’t have any photos of the salad but it was so easy to make (thanks to Brian Albert from the Old Chatham Country Store). Are you ready?

Put a little salsa in bottom of bowl then add 1 can Delmonte corn (drained), then 2 diced avocados folded in, and quartered cherry tomatoes. Make a platter of shredded romaine and sprinkle the ingredients over the top. Serve Ranch Dressing on the side. Wow – this couldn’t have been easier. As for the Ranch Dressing, here is that recipe:

BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING – Barefoot Contessa recipe

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon good olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise

1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE CAKE – Barefoot Contessa recipe

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1 16-ounce can Hershey’s chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Candied violets or edible gold leaf, or chevrons for decoration (all optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 8-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat, or the cake will be tough.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don’t overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze. Decorate by drawing chevrons on top using a pastry bag and tip or a plastic bag with a corner cut off to create lines; draw a knife through the lines. 

Do not refrigerate.

MAH JONGG LUNCHEON AND GAME PLAY

Last month I gave a luncheon in honor of Toby Salk‘s visit to NYC. There were eight of us so we were able to have two tables of MJ. We were also celebrating Gail K’s birthday – for dessert we had a birthday cake along with Mah Jongg party favors. Of course, around the game tables there were lots of snacks and candy! In the excitement of the day, I totally forgot to take photos but Toby did shoot some for me. Hopefully she will send more but here is the first one she sent to me:

We had a great lunch – first a spinach dip with crudités and also a couple of bowls of rosemary cashews followed by a lunch of chilaquiles, guacamole, salsa, and chips plus a salad of chopped lettuce with lots of goodies on top and homemade ranch dressing. And then, after a few hours of game play, the chocolate ganache cake came out and, if I say so myself, it was yummy!

Here’s a photo of the rosemary cashews and the chocolate ganache cake (yum!).

Recipes tomorrow…

SIMPLY THE BEST!

If you follow this blog then you know I always say that Mah Jongg people are the best people. Now I need to add to that statement by saying that my Mah Jongg students are the very best people! One of my classes had their last lesson the other day and brought me a present – and what a present it is! I was actually speechless – an unusual state of being for me – and so very touched by this most thoughtful and beautiful gift. It is a Kent Stetson evening bag – so incredible!!! Here is a photo of the front of the bag – the clasp on the front flap is a large Mah Jongg tile!

Here is the back of the bag with the Kent Stetson bar label – it’s a little hard to see in this photo but it is there.

Here is the bag in its sleeper case plus the Kent Stetson description of the bag. Isn’t this the most fabulous gift?!!!

Gorgeous asymmetrical clutch featuring a playful Mahjong set. Hand crafted to perfection. All bags come with a removable cross-body chain, logo dust bag, clear vinyl inner pocket, and are individually signed. Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 1

And who are these thoughtful, wonderful, and generous people who gave this amazing gift to me? Well, you have met them before…Much thanks to these terrific ladies – and I will say it again…you are the best!

HAPPY MAH JONGG MEMORIAL DAY!!!

HAVE A HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND WONDERFUL MEMORIAL DAY –

AND I HOPE YOU HAVE TIME TO PLAY LOTS OF MAH JONGG!