Of course after all that cheese you better have a salad on the side to keep the pipes running clear(ish).
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Of course after all that cheese you better have a salad on the side to keep the pipes running clear(ish).
Sunday, December 14, 2008
- 1 1/2 lb fresh poblano chiles (about 5) -I substituted Anaheim
- 1 lb onions, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 lb large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk - I substituted non-fat milk
Monday, December 1, 2008
Its the holidays. I have an excuse to bake and cook like a fiend for the fam and friends and give it all away as gifts. Baking and Candy making is my favorite part of the Holidays. Of course Fudge tops the list of my candy making.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Pumpkin Bread recipes are more than a dime a dozen. They have more varieties using raw, puree or the dreaded already spiced "pumpkin pie" canned stuff. I love a good pumpkin bread and its taken a few whacks to get one that works consistently.
- 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup pumpkin purée*
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- zest of one orange
- juice of one orange plus enough water to equal 1/4 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup dried cranberry
This pictures serves to do nothing for the recipe but I do find the whirling and swirling blade hypnotic and a stress reliever.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
- 7 ounces caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons cherry brandy
- 4 fluid ounces water
- Lemon juice, optional
Monday, November 10, 2008
- 3-1/2 cups prepared juice (buy about 5 large fully ripe pomegranates)
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
- 1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
- 5 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
A hard rolling boil looks like this. It is boiling so hard that you can't stir down the bubbles. Once at this point cook to the recommended time to ensure the jelly setting.
I've been told the water bath serves two purposes. The first is to completely sterilize the contents in case you had any contamination in the process of filling the jars. The other is to ensure a very tight seal. Don't skip this step as you also have a very strong chance of your jelly not setting, but separating.
Of course that bit of foam and remnant of jelly when skimmed is always put aside in a tiny bowl. Why? Obvious is if that bit sets at room temp your canned jelly will too. Also...you get a little tasty treat for all your labors while you wait for the canned stuff to be ready.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
- 4 lbs boneless beef chuck short ribs
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 C sun dried tomato in oil
- 2 T chopped garlic
- 1/2 C loose fresh basil (2T dried)
- 1 t oregano
- 1 T fennel seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 C Red Wine - use what you are serving with dinner
- 2 pkg Beef broth concentrate or bouillon (it would make 1 C each)
- 2 Cans diced tomato
- 1 Can tomato sauce
- 1/4 C flour
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1 T coarse ground black pepper
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T bacon fat
A friend turned me on to this brand of liquid beef broth. It really adds a deep rich flavor to the dish without all the added salt of the traditional little boullion cubes.
Let the meat just sit on the braising liquid, it doesn't have to be covered. That is the difference between braising and stewing...the latter the meat is completely submerged in the liquid.
Friday, October 31, 2008
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1/3 c brown sugar
- 2T water
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 T brandy
- 4 lightly buttered ramekins
- 6 medium apples (I used fuji, but gala work nice too)
- 1 T cinnamon (adjust to taste)
- 1/8 t fresh ground nutgmeg
- 8 T fresh ground walnuts
- 1/2 c dried cranberry
- 1 sheet ready made pie crust (like Pilsbury ready made)
Top layer of fruit comes just to the top of the ramekin. Crappy phone-cam doesn't show the fine details on the one that has its dough top on, but you get the idea of tucking inside the dish and up against the rim.
All fresh out of the oven. Note the steam vents are clearer in this pic. Of course since this is fall I opted for a "leaf" design, but you can use hearts, diamonds, or even fruit shapes as decoration made from the left over pastry dough.
- 2 8oz packages cream cheese - room temperature
- 1 small can crushed pineapple
- 1/2 c dried cranberry
- 1/4 t ground ginger
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
- 2-3 Engrish Cucumbers
- 1/2 C cilantro - coarse chopped
- 3 small green onions, thinly sliced including tops
- 1/2 -1 t red pepper flakes (to taste)
- Sesame Chicken Salad Dressing - approx 1 cup to cover.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 2 T chopped garlic
- 1 t thyme
- 1 t fresh sage
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t ground cumin
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 2T Olive oil
- 1T butter
- 2 C pumpkin puree
- 1 can (7 oz) green chiles
- 2 cans (14 oz) low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Caramelized nuts is super easy to do. Using a silpat pretty much guarantees you no sticky messy clean ups.
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1 T water
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1 C walnut or pecan halves
- sea salt to taste
Over medium heat melt butter. Just as butter begins to sizzle add brown sugar and water. With whisk stir constantly until all the sugar is dissolved into the butter and water. Cook 1-3 minutes until bubbly and turning a dark bubbly brown. Add nuts and toss carefully until well coated. Immediately pour onto silpat lined baking sheet. Separate the nuts. Salt with coarse sea salt.
The nuts are an integral part of the textures in this pear/Stilton/caramelized nut salad. It works best if you use lighter flavored salad dressings or vinaigrette's so you don't overwhelm and hide the subtle sweetness of the pears or the lightly tangy Stilton. One of the things I like about the salad is that you do get the whole slightly sweet and salty play with the pear and sea salt on the nuts.
Pear Stilton and Caramelized Nut Salad
- 5-6 cups mixed greens (I use Fresh & Easy Wild Rocket blend)
- 1 ripe pear
- 1/2 c crumbled blue Stilton (An English Blue cheese, sub Gorgonzola if you can't find Stilton)
- 1/2 c bacon bits
- 1/2 c thinly sliced English Cucumber
- 1/2 c Caramelized Nut
- 4 slices baguette
- Salad Dressing (I used honey mustard)
- Black Pepper
Divide greens between two large salad plates of bowls. Place a couple of slices of bread on the side of the bowl. Divide cucumber and put on top of the greens. Core the pear and cut into a dozen thin slices. Add the pears. Divide the Stilton and to salad. Divide Nuts and add to salad.
Dress to taste. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
My contribution to the days noshing and festivities will include these tasty but stupid easy cookies. I'm not quite sure where I heard that orange and chocolate are a good flavor combination but they do pair well. These cookies are something I just thought up one day and ran with it.
Orange Chocolate Palmiers
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry - thawed
- 2 T raw or tourbinado sugar, divided
- zest of one medium orange
- 1 oz bitter sweet chocolate
Lay down a sheet of plastic wrap larger than the puff pastry sheet. Sprinkle 1 T of the raw sugar on the plastic wrap approximately the size of the pastry sheet. Unfold pastry on top of the sugar. The unfolded pastry should have the creases visible and running horizontal on the wrap.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 T raw sugar over the pastry sheet. Zest the orange with a microplane over the puff pastry. Using microplane grate the chocolate over the pastry. Lightly tap the sugar, zest and chocolate onto the puff pastry.
With one long edge of the puff pastry carefully fold the edge to the nearest crease. Fold again to the half way point on the pastry. Repeat with the other edge of the dough. Fold the dough again in half. Wrap dough in the plastic wrap and chill 15-minutes. Very important that you chill the dough or it will not cut well nor puff correctly in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Remove the dough from fridge and immediately unwrap. Cut the dough in half. Take the half and cut in the middle (will yield 2, one quarter rolls). Cut the one quarter roll into 3 pieces (about 1/4 think). Lay each cookie on the sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat until all of dough is cut and lined up on baking sheet.
Bake 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before moving to wire rack.
Note the original crease lines as they are important guides for the folding when it is time to start rolling the palmiers.
Microplanes are the greatest gift to the kitchen, makes it so easy to finely grate things like chocolate and get even distribution at the same time. After the final fold is done you have a log that needs to be rolled in the plastic wrap so it will hold its shape will chilling.
A sharp serrated knife is the best tool for cutting through the chilled dough. It doesn't cut and drag through the dough causing it to lose its shape like a regular knife will.
Silpat sheets...the single greatest invention for anyone who lies to bake. Cookies like this that have a lot of raw sugar would bake and burn onto a regular cookie sheet, here they just bake away and glide right off the sheet. Clean up is easy...damp cloth and it is done.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Yikes...if your Hershey's chocolate doesn't taste like chocolate anymore read the bag.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I was too tired to think yesterday about what I wanted for dinner and after wandering back and forth through the meat dept at Pavilions I spotted "Thin sliced Top Round Roast". Pretty much the same cut of meat my Ma used for our "Steak and Gravy Night". Old fashioned comfort food has its merits, this is one that is tasty and perfect for one of those brain dead days where one is too tired to think.
With my version I had to do some changes as my picky eaters (4/5 of the house) canNOT bear the sight of onion in their food. Feel free to include a thinly sliced medium yellow onion and cut out the onion powder from the dredging. Just add the onions after the beef is browned off and cook until soft. Then add the beef back in and continue cooking as per the instructions.
Steak and Gravy
- 1 1/2 lbs thin cut "Round Steak" or "Top Round Roast"
- 1 can beef broth
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 T Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1 T onion powder
- 1 pkg brown gravy mix.
- 2T oil
Cut the steak into serving sizes of about 1/4 lb each. Pound each side with the serrated side of a meat mallet until about 1/2 their original thickness.
Heat large skillet with oil over medium high heat until just smoking. Combine flour, steak seasoning and onion powder. Dredge each piece of steak in the flour mixture. Sear each side until brown in the hot oil. Do a few pieces at a time, moving cooked pieces to side while searing the new pieces.
Add the beef broth and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Using a grater add 3-4 good scrapes fresh nutmeg to the pan, stir in well. Bring to boil. Put lid on the skillet and let it simmer on low for 1 hour. At the end of the hour prepare gravy mix according to pkg instructions then add to the Steak. Stir constantly until gravy is cooked. Server over egg noodles or mashed 'taters.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Stupid easy recipe:
Marshmallows and Popcorn
- 1 bag Orville Redenbocker butter flavor popcorn
- 2 c mini marshmallows.
Pop the popcorn according to package directions. Put popped corn into a bowl, toss with marshmallows. Serve with hot cocoa.
My Grandma Jasovec lived deep in the woods on a small farm outside of Ely MN. Many a summer was spent foraging with her for berries and stuff when I was a little kid.
She had some roses on her property. Those roses came from her mothers farm in South Dakota. (My grandmother was actually born in a Sod House on the Prairie of SD but that is another story for an place). It has relevance as her humble beginnings she learned to cook all sorts of stuff. Among the things she could do magic with was Rose hips.
Part of what she did was make great jelly's and jams. Rose hips was one of the items on her farm she made jelly with (also wild strawberries, wild blueberries, choke cherry's and just about anything else ending in "erry" and was a fruit. Oh, also rhubarb combined with any of the "erry" fruit.
I have quite a collection of roses. Several bloom only once a year so I just let them go, grow their hips then leave them for the birds in the area to feast on. This year my memory was jogged and I remembered that my grandmother made jelly from Rose Hips. Swore by them as a cure all which if you believe wikipedia there is some herbalists that believe so.
So with a little research (Grandma passed in '81 so those recipe cards of hers are long gone at this point) I found a recipe for Rose Hip Jelly. The Mint was my idea to add a little more flavor as the rose hip, though related to the apple tastes more like quince.
Rose Hip Mint Jelly
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 4 quarts ripe rose hips
- 1 bunch mint
- 2 quarts water
- 1 pgk pectin crystals (I used sure-jel)
- 5 cups sugar
- 1/2 c lemon juice
Preparation: Simmer rose hips and mint in water until soft. Crush to mash, and strain through a jelly bag. Should make about 4 cups of rose hip juice.
Add to juice, lemon juice and pectin crystals and stir until mixture comes to a hard boil. Stir sugar in at once. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove jelly from heat and skim off foam with metal spoon.
Pour jelly into hot sterilized jars.
Yield: about 5 cups
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
One of my favorite summer meals is a simple vegie saute tossed with warm couscous. Nice and filling, full of flavor but it doesn't weigh you down. Couscous also has the advantage of being the easiest pasta on the planet to cook. Had boiling water or stock and walk away. No boiling pot of water adding tons of steam to the kitchen making a hot day worse.
Couscous & Vegie Saute'
- 1 1/c water or stock
- 1 c couscous
- 2 medium zucchini -sliced
- 8 oz button mushrooms
- 1 med red onion
- 1 small green pepper
- 1/4 c basil coarse chopped
- olive oil
- fresh cracked pepper
Bring water or stock to a boil. Pour over couscous, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Slice mushrooms in halve, quarter the really big ones. Add to hot oil. Cook approximately 5 minutes until they start to brown.
Add sliced zucchini. Cook about 5 minutes until they start to brown. Chop onion and green pepper and add to pan. Add half of the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5-10 minutes or until onion begins to caramelize.
Fluff couscous with a fork. Add the hot vegies and remaining chopped basil. Toss lightly and serve hot.
Best flavor in the couscous comes from using a good stock, beef or chicken. If you are using as a side dish chose a stock that compliments your main (beef for beef for example). If you are looking to go vegetarian use vegetable stock.
Also, if you want your vegies to brown better during the saute process reduce the olive oil by half and substitue in a pat of butter to replace the removed oil. It does add a bit of animal fat to the dish that is otherwise missing, but what the heck...what is a little butter between friends?
Monday, September 1, 2008
This weekend we can attribute our Iron Chef night to my cousin Paul (two doors up from me) for the ingredient. It started with a conversation over more than a few bottles wine after an evening at a local wine bar. When he was living back east in Jersey he and his roommates joked about "man candles" or candles with scents guys would appreciate more than the frou-frou florally stuff. Bacon was their number one candle idea. We got to laughing and decided Bacon had to be our next Iron Chef night ingredient. After all who doesn't like crispy, salty pork product?
I remember my Ma used to make at Thanksgiving all the time this layered salad that I just loved that included a lot of bacon in it. I remember it coming from the mid-70's, but it wasn't something we got much as only the two of us would eat it, my Pop and other Sibs didn't do cauliflower so it didn't make sense to make it unless there was a crowd or a special occasion with guests to help eat it up.
After looking at the original recipe, that was sadly missing quantities I figured I might as well update it a little. This was going to be for a competition so I had to make it a good one.
Mom's Layered Salad
2 inches chopped lettuce
next layer 1 small box of frozen peas
next fresh cauliflower cut into little pieces
next a layer of chopped bacon crisp fried or bacos
1/2 pkg Great Beginnings garlic salad dressing mix sprinkled over last layer
Layer of real mayonnaise over the top to seal. Refrigerate 24 hours. Toss before serving
Bacon Layered Salad
1 small head iceberg lettuce chopped
10 oz frozen peas - thawed and separated
1 small head cauliflower
1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 c grape tomatoes - halved
1 1/2 c bacon chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c miracle whip
1/2 package 7 Seas Zesty Italian salad mix
1 1/2 t smoked paprika
fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Chop lettuce and put into the bottom of a straight sided bowl. Pour lemon juice over the lettuce and toss lightly to distribute. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Cut Cauliflower into small florets. Toss with smoked paprika in a small bowl then spread in even layer over the lettuce. Sprinkle chopped parsley evenly over the cauliflower.
Add peas. Add layer of bacon bits. Sprinkle salad dressing mix over the bacon. Carefully spread the Miracle Whip over the top of the bacon. Arrange tomatoes cut side down. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Toss just before serving.
chop lettuce in bite sized pieces
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Although I may be a fruit pie/cobbler guy, I do enjoy my chocolate. Rich deep chocolate, not that wimpy milk chocolate stuff. We got invited to BBQ the other day and were left with the task of putting together a dessert for the host who dislikes fruit, especially if it is baked into something.
Chocolate to the rescue. Since it is summer and an outdoor BBQ the perfect thing would be something S'mores like. Since there wouldn't be a fire going I opted to go with duplicating the flavors and leave the fire part out.
The filling was inspired by the September 2008 Food & Wine "30 Best Fast Recipes Ever". I opted to go with the really dark chocolates and knew their recipe couldn't hold up to the intense Valrhona's I wanted to use. Therefore I swapped in half-and-half for the milk to compensate for the lower cocoa fats in an 85% cocoa solids bitter sweet chocolate. I increased the sugar as well as I was using a "Black Onyx" unsweetened baking chocolate from Surfas that is as the names suggests so rich in chocolate solids it looks almost black.
- 6 graham crackers – crushed fine
- 2 T butter melted
- 1 T sugar
- 1 c miniature marshmallows
Double Chocolate Pudding Filling
- 2 ¼ c half and half
- 1 c sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 T corn starch
- 3 T unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 2 T unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 t vanilla extract
Fine crush the graham crackers in food processor. Reserve 6 teaspoons for later. Add 1T sugar and melted butter. Whiz until incorporated. Divide the mixture evenly in to 6, 8 oz ramekins. Bake in 350 Oven 5 minutes. Let it cool while making the pudding filling.
In a medium non-stick sauce pan mix 2 cups half-and-half and sugar. Stir until smooth over medium heat until it boils and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in salt.
Mix corn starch, cocoa powder and remaining half-and-half and whisk until smooth. Whisk into hot mixture until smooth. Return to moderate heat and whisk constantly until the pudding is thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk eggs until smooth. Whisk in briskly and constantly 1 cup of hot cocoa mixture until smooth. Return pan to medium low heat. Whisk in the egg mixture and whisk constantly until the mixture just comes to a boil about 2 minutes. Do not boil.
Pour chocolate mixture through strainer into mixing bowl. With beater attachment on stir add chopped chocolate and cubed butter. Stir until just incorporated.
Divide pudding mixture into each ramekin. Top with Marshmallows and reserved graham cracker crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 1-2 hours.
The marshmallows can be “toasted” with a kitchen torch just prior to serving.
Use really good chocolate and cocoa
Whisk briskly to totally dissolve in the cocoa and corn starch mixture to avoid lumps
Lightly tap in the graham cracker bottom, don't press or it will be like a brick at the bottom you can't break loose to eat with the filling and stuff.
Slowly stir in butter and chopped chocolate until just smooth. Don't beat or you will have it full of bubbles and not have a smooth texture.
Divide the pudding filling and enjoy! Of course you can skip the entire parfait and just eat the pudding as it is an intensely rich and velvety chocolate pudding all by itself.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I'm not sure where I got this from, I suspect it came out of one of my Mom's massive collection of church or PTA cook books. Given the HUGE amount of butter involved I'd guess it was from one of books issued back in Farmington MO when we lived back there in the 70's.
Really a lot of simple steps. Do put aside a long period from start to finish as there are several chilling periods between layers lasting an hour or two each. Fair warning, but the end result is well worth it.
Praline Chocolate Dessert
2 c Oreo cookie crumbs
½ c butter
1 c chopped pecans
1 ½ c butter cubed
1 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
2 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese softened
½ c confectioners sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 c (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
½ c heavy whipping cream
In small bowl combined cookie crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of a 9 inch greased springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with pecans.
In large saucepan over medium heat bring butter and brown sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Pour over pecans. Refrigerate for 1 -2 hours until set.
In large mixing bowl, put filling ingredients until smooth. Spread over praline layer. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours until set.
For ganache, in a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips with cream, stir until smooth. Cool slightly, spread over filling. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until set. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen, remove sides of pan. Garnish with pecan halves. Refrigerate leftovers. 14-16 servings
Make sure you use a really good chocolate for the ganache. Do be careful with the melting of the higher cocoa solid chocolates as they will burn or seize faster than the usual chips you get at the groc. I used a Valhrona 85% cocoa solid bittersweet chocolate as regular semi-sweet is still to sweet to counter the rich filling and praline.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Couscous is the easiest thing in the world to make. Pour boiling liquid on it. Cover it. Wait 5 minutes and you are done. No stirring, draining or watching hoping it doesn't boil over or burn. A stupid easy way to get carbs in your diet. While it sits and steeps you can get whatever else you want with it or in it prepped.
This recipe is inspired by a lot of the flavors of the Mediterranean but doesn't pay any particular allegiance to any particular one.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- 1 can chicken broth (vegetable broth if you are in a vegan mindset)
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 1/4 c couscous
- 1 T mint (2T fine chopped if using fresh)
- 1 T parsley (2 T fine chopped if using fresh)
- 1 T basil (2T chiffonade if using fresh)
- 1 c grape or cherry tomatoes - halved
- 1 c cucumber, quartered then sliced
- 1/2 c coarse chopped roasted red pepper
- 1/2 c sliced kalmata olives
- 4 green onions, tops included, sliced
- 1 lime, zest and juice.
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine broth, oil, garlic, and bay leaf in a small sauce pan. Cover and bring to simmer, simmer for 5 minutes covered to develop bay leaf flavor.
Combine couscous and dried herbage, if using fresh do not add now. Pour the hot liquid over the couscous. Cover. Let it steep 5 minutes, tightly covered until liquid is absorbed.
Once liquid absorbed uncover add lime zest and juice and fluff with a fork. Add any fresh herbs, the veg and fold in gently. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
NOTE: as the broth and olives bring a salt element to the salad do not test for salt until it has rested at least an hour. At the end of the rest period flavors will have melded enough to test for salt, taste and adjust as needed. Serve or allow to sit until meal time. Can be served at room temp or chilled.