Sunday, December 18, 2016

Apple Cranberry Nut Bread

This a right tasty and textural quick bread.  Heavy on the tart from the cranberry and lightly citrus with a hint of spice.  Perfect for a mid-winter snack or breakfast.  Stupid simple to make.  The hardest task is peeling and dicing the apples.  

Apple Cranberry Nut Bread

  • 1 16 oz bag fresh cranberry
  • 1 1/2 c whole walnut
  • 1 1/2 c diced granny smith apple
  • 4 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 c orange juice
  • zest from 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs beaten

Preheat oven 350F.

Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to break them up.  Add cranberry and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.  Set aside.

In stand mixer add sugars, orange juice, oil and eggs beat until well combined.  Add baking powder, baking soda, zest, and cinnamon.  Stir lightly.  Fold in flour until just combined.  Fold in cranberry and nut mixture until just combined.  Fold in diced apples.

Spray 2 9X5 loaf pans with nonstick spray (or spray 8 mini-loaf pans).  Bake 55 minutes until full size loaf tests clean with a toothpick.  40-45 minutes on the mini-loaves.  Cool 15 minutes and then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Salted Caramel Pretzel Sweet Potato Casserole

Skip the candied yams...go straight for this salty sweet treat for Thanksgiving.  Using real fresh sweet potatoes instead of a canned yam makes a world of difference so don't just grab a yam, get the real deal even if it takes a couple of stores to find it.  You won't regret it.

To safe a few steps I cheated and bought a good quality caramel from the ice cream section at the groc.  One less thing to do on a busy day of cooking is a good thing.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 4 sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2-3 pounds)
  • 1/4 c cream
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t nutmeg


  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1 c crushed pretzels
  • 2/3 c caramel sauce
  • flaked sea salt (like maldon)

Heat oven to 400F.  Poke holes into sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast for about an hour until thickest potato is fork tender.  Cool to room temperature.

Once potatoes are cooled peel and place the pulp in a mixing bowl.   Add spices, cream and brown sugar.  Mash until smooth and even consistency.  Transfer into a lightly greased casserole dish.ds

Make the topping.  In a small sauce pan heat butter and brown sugar.  Stir over moderate heat until it starts to bubble and the sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir in pretzels until well coated.  Pour pretzel mixture over the sweet potatoes and spread to evenly distribute.  Drizzle caramel sauce evenly over pretzels.  

Bake in 350F oven uncovered until hot and bubbly for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle flaked sea salt over the hot caramel pretzels.  Serve hot with your Thanksgiving feast!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fall Fruit Crisp

Apples, Pears, Cranberry and bad can it be?

The perfect ending for a wine and cheese night over at my cousins house.  Fall Fruit Crisp, a lovely combo of fresh fall fruit, the crunch of first harvest walnuts under a crispy crumble topping.  A universal hit, and using 1 cup ramekins you get perfect portion control.

You'll want to use firm fruit that is ripe like a Bosc pear instead of the softer Bartlett variety.  Similarly you'll want to use a firm ripe apple like a Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith over a softer Red or Golden Delicious.  The firm fruit holds its shape during baking, the softer cooks to mush and the texture is just wrong in this Fall Fruit Crisp.

Fall Fruit Crisp

  • 3 pears - peeled,cored and 1/2" dice
  • 3 apples - peeled, cored and 1/2" dice
  • 1/2 c dried cranberry
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt


  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 c COLD unsalted butter cubed

Preheat oven 375F convection, 400F without convection

Peel, core and dice apples and pears.  Add to mixing bowl.  Add dried cranberry, walnuts, brown sugar, salt and spices.  Toss lightly to combine.  Set aside while making topping.

To make topping in food processor add all ingredients and pulse a few times until butter is evenly crumbled in the topping and you can't see large pieces any longer.

Take 6 ramekins and place on a baking sheet.  Divide fruit filling evenly among the ramekins.  Divide topping over the fruit filling evenly.  Place in preheated oven and bake until rich golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Serve warm with a dollop of fresh whipping cream.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sausage and Spinach with fresh pasta

This was loosely adapted from a couple of recipes in this months Bon Appetite magazine.  The big difference is that I purposely skipped the addition of heavy cream and avoided the cured meats...that some of the donor recipes called for.  Its still not a low fat recipe but, dang is it tasty.

I finally got making pasta from scratch down.  The pasta used here was fresh pappadrelle in style, with a few thinner ribbons more like tagliatelle.  Call it "rustic cut" and be done.  You are more than welcome to swap out fettuccini or other wide flat pasta for the recipe.  That's the glory of pasta....similar shapes won't affect the taste.

I can promise you this, even my pickiest eater loved this pasta and came back for seconds.

Sausage and Spinach with Fresh Pasta

  • 1 lb fresh pappadrelle or tagliatelle
  • 1 lb mild Italian Sausage
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 c)
  • 2 shallots thinly sliced shallot
  • 1.4 c minced fresh flat leaf parsley (or 2 T dried)
  • 1-2 ladles boiling pasta water

Add salt to pasta water until it is has the taste of the ocean (1/4c to about 2 quarts water) and bring to a boil.

Break up sausage and brown with a little bit of olive oil to get it started.  Add sliced shallot and saute until translucent.  

Add fresh pasta to salted boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes until al dente.  Scoop out the noodles with a spider and tongs and add to sausage mixture. Add Spinach.  Add butter and parsley and 1 ladle pasta water.  Toss to coat pasta with sauce and sausage.  Toss until spinach is wilted.  IF sauce is too thick thin with additional pasta water.

Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a nice Pinto Grigio white wine

Lime Custard Pie

I love Key Lime Pie, but here in my corner of L.A the Key Lime is not easily found, and if you do find it, its stupid expensive.  Step in the trusty basic Lime found at the corner groc...its limey and tasty enough and much easier to juice than a Key Lime.

Hint, and this applies to all citrus, to get maximum juice out of them.  Have them at room temp, zap in the microwave 10 seconds and roll them on the counter with firm pressure prior to halving and juicing.  This ensures maximum juice for your effort.

Salt.  Its what balances sweet and sour and needed in this recipe.  Don't omit as your cutting salt in your diet, remove elsewhere...there isn't much and it does make a difference in taste.

I'm assume you have your own favorite pie crust recipe and will skip providing here.  I actually made an all butter crust for this that was really flakey and tasty, but any pie crust will work.  

Lime Custard Pie
  • 1 9" pie shell prebaked

  • 1 c Lime juice
  • zest of one lime
  • 2 cans (14.5  oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2-3 drops green food color

Bake pie shell according to your recipe instructions.  When lightly browned remove from oven.  Reduce heat to 325F.

Zest one lime first then juice.  Juice enough limes to make 1 cup lime juice.  Mix, zest, juice, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, salt and food coloring until well blended.  Pour into baked pie shell and place in oven for 25-30 minutes until just set.  It will still jiggle some and should not be browned on top.  Cool to room temp then place in fridge for at least 2 hours until well chilled.  Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream...or cool whip if thats your thing.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oven Butter Poached Shrimp

A similar version of this recipe exists on this blog.  This version is a bit lighter, who am I kidding, one less stick of butter isn't really lighter.  To amp up the flavor I toss in chopped garlic and wine to make things a bit tastier.

Cooking with wine is a no brainer, use any good wine you'd drink that doesn't break the bank.  Added bonus when you cook with a wine and serve it at the table there's a pairing that magically happens on the palette.  I used a Pinot Grigio, but Pinot Gris or even Chardonnay will work.

I use large shrimp for this as they have better flavor and are easier to eat.  The 21-25 size are ideal for this finger food...not a fine dining experience, but casual dining where you grab it by the tail and enjoy.  Be sure to have a bowl next to you to catch the remaining tails.

Oven Butter Poached Shrimp

  • 2 lbs large shrimp
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c minced fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Preheat oven to 375f

Wash and shell/devein the shrimp leaving the tail on.

Gently heat butter until just melted.  Add wine, salt, pepper flakes to taste, parsley and garlic.  Whisk to combine.

Place shrimp in a 9X13 baking dish.  Pour over butter mixture.  Bake 20-25 minutes until no longer pink and cooked through.  

Ladle into bowls. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the luscious poaching liquid.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Limoncello Bread Pudding

Universal hit.  Not a sad face in the crowd when I unveiled it last night at an evening of wine and cheese or with the samples left at home.

What to do when you have an abundance of lemons has been addressed before, make limoncello.  Then what do with all the limoncello you have floating around is the next question, why make stuff with it.

This recipe is a conglomeration of several I found on the web.   I used more common ingredients to ensure ease of duplication.

For the bread I grabbed a simple rustic white bread, but really texas toast or an Italian loaf will work just fine.  Don't make yourself crazy trying to find things like Challah or Brioche loaves.  The key to the bread absorbing all of the egg mixture is to buy it a few days prior to making your bread pudding and leave it on the counter so it dries out some.  Stale bread absorbs custards better, remember that factoid for all bread puddings.

Limoncello Bread Pudding
Bread Pudding

  • 1 1/2 c Half and Half
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c limoncello
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 quarts bread cubes.


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2T limoncello

Cube bread into 1/2 inch cubes.  Keep crust as that adds color and texture to your bread pudding.
Combine eggs, half and half, vanilla, salt, sugar, limoncello, and zest.  Whisk well until combined.  Pour over bread cubes. Toss lightly to coat all cubes.

Let set on counter 20 minutes.  Toss occasionally to keep bread completely covered in custard mixture.

Preheat oven to 325.
Generously butter the bottoms and sides of 5-6 small ramekins.  Spoon in bread mixture until within a half inch of the top of ramekin.

Place filled ramekins on baking sheet.  Spritz aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover with foil sprayed side down on the ramekins.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake additional 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden and tests clean with a tooth pick.


Prepare glaze by combining powdered sugar, zest, and juice of lemon.  Add limoncello as needed to thin to consistency of heavy cream.  Spoon glaze over the bread pudding just prior to serving.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Nostalgia alert.  One of the treats I remember on my Grandma Jasovec's farm in Ely Minnesota growing up was her watermelon pickles.  Being a depression era housewife she was particularly thrifty and nothing went to waste.  That includes the bitter watermelon rind.  Think of sweet and sour with the warming spice of cinnamon, clove and allspice on the back note.  Really a tasty treat and a childhood favorite.

Flash forward a few more decades and I've been craving these for a while. I have my grandmother's canning book and recipe so that's a big leap forward.  The hold up in making them however was finding one of the key ingredients...pickling lime.  You'd think in a city the size of Los Angeles it could be found, but you'd be wrong.  Google searches didn't turn up the ingredient either.  The purpose of the lime is to keep the rind green and soften it. the the google board I went.  I found several recipes that called for soaking the cut rind in salt, kosher salt to be specific to soften and keep the color.  It is important to use kosher salt as the iodized crap will discolor the pickles.

That seemed easy enough to sub out and try.  The rest of the recipe is from my Grandmother's canning book ca 1930??? from when she was a young housewife.

FYI...a 9.5 lb watermelon yielded the needed rind for the recipe.  The edible flesh...cube and toss into a feta salad or similar.  Maybe watermelon sorbet or sherbet?

Watermelon Rind Pickles

  • 2 quarts hot water
  • 1/2 c kosher salt


  • 4 lbs watermelon rind cut into 1/2'X1" cubes
  • 4 c water
  • 4 c white vinegar
  • 4 c sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks cut in half
  • 1 T whole allspice
  • 1 t whole cloves
  • 5-6 sterilized pint jars, lids and rings

Day 1.  Cut watermelon into 1 inch slices.  Cut the slices at 1/2 inch leaving roughly 1/2" by 1" cubes.  Place rinds into a large non-reactive pan (stainless steel).  Dissolve kosher salt in the hot water and pour over the watermelon rinds. Keep covered at room temp for 18-24 hours.  Stir occasionally to ensure all rinds get a good soak in the brine.
cubed and ready for brining

Day 2.  Drain Rinds.  Fill pot with cold water and let stand 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse in colander.

In large non-reactive pot add water, vinegar, sugar and spices.  Bring to boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add watermelon rind.  Bring to hard boil and then reduce heat to soft boil.  Cook until translucent about 1-1 1/2 hours.
simmering rinds not quite got their pickle on
When pickle is translucent pack pickles into sterilized hot canning jars.  Top with pickling liquid to within 1/4 inch of top of jar.  Add Lids and tightly fasten rings.  Let set 1 week to cure before eating.
I put a  half cinnamon stick and try to get some of the allspice and cloves in each jar so you see what the flavors are as well as taste them.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Few things are universal hits in my house of picky eaters.  This one was a home run with all involved.  Whats not to like...oodles of wild blueberry suspended in a light cake with a cinnamon streusel topping.  Lifes good and its a frequent request that disappears in one day.

Let me again extol the virtues of fresh frozen wild blueberries.  Get them, they have intense real flavor packed into those tiny nuggets.  None of that gritty flavorless qualities of the commercially grown grape sized monstrosities.  To quote my friend Mary Fox, "don't make me hurt you..."  Get the real thing a delightful frozen wild blueberry.'

Another ingredient is not a staple but worth the couple of bucks to get is real buttermilk.  It brings a righteous tang to the cake and the perfect crumb.  Yes I know you can fake buttermilk with whole milk and vinegar or lemon juice, but the flavor is off and affects the crumb quality as well.  What you don't use in the coffee cake...use it in batch of pancakes.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T soft butter
  • pinch kosher salt

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c butter milk
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 c frozen blueberries thawed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter bottom and sides of an 8X8 glass baking dish.

Combine topping ingredients.  Cut in butter with fork until soft crumbs form and butter is incorporated.  Set aside.

Melt butter and cool until no longer hot to the touch. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together to combine. Combine buttermilk, eggs , vanilla and stir to combine.  Add cooled melted butter to the buttemilk mixture.  Slowly add dry mixture to buttermilk in small batches stirring to just absorbed.  Over stirring will toughen the final product so stir lightly and only until combined

Gently fold in the frozen blueberries.  Pur batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven 40-45 months until cake tests clean with a tooth pick and is golden brown.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pear Honey Preserves - perfect addition to a cheese board

The picture tells the whole story in 4 frames.  From white mass of sugar and pears to a honey colored thick preserve.  What it can't give you is the wonderful taste of this preserve especially when mated to a fatty cheese like a triple creme brie or even better a tart stinky cheese like Stilton.  Heaven.  Sheer unadulterated pleasure on the palate.

Difficult?  Hardly.  Time consuming yes, but isn't anything worthwhile take a bit of time out of the day. If you can stir and watch a pot simmer you have the needed skill set.

The only special equipment you need is one of those canning car thingy's for lifting sterilized jars from their boiling water bath. 

Pears are bountiful and cheap this time of year and it doesn't matter what variety you use. I had a plethora to chose from and went with the more common and easy to find Bartlett's.
Pear Honey Preserves
  • 8 cups chopped pears (about 15)
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 1 c lemon juice

Peel, core and quarter pears.  Slice pears into 1/2" slices.

Add pears to heavy bottom pan.  I used a non-stick Calphalon pot for ease of clean up, a friend duplicating the recipe used a heavy stainless steel pan and the cooking time was considerably shorter than a non-stick pan. 

Add sugar and toss to coat.  Add lemon juice.  Stir softly to dissolve sugar.  Bring heat to medium high and stir until it comes to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce heat to low and simmer 2-3 hours until syrupy and deep honey colored.  Stir occasionally while simmering to keep from sticking to pan.  Stir gently so as not to break up fruit chunks.

Once mixture has reached desired color and consistency ladle into sterilized jars and cap tightly with canning lids and rings.

Serve with cheese board or spoon into your morning oatmeal for a sweet treat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

My oldest child had her birthday yesterday.  She detests cake, she really does.  No biggy she loves cheesecake and that's a pretty easy one to pull off.  Her order this year was "candy cheese cake".  TH is that?  We talked a bit and came up with peanut butter cheese cake with mini peanut butter cup candies baked into it and as garnish.  WINNER.  Even the cheesecake hater in the house loved this one.

The interwebs were filled with recipes for peanut butter cheese cake, but the crusts were just wrong for what we wanted.  This recipe is a combo of several plus my favorite stand by crust.  Tasty for sure.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

  • 3 c Oreo or similar chocolate creme cookie crumbles
  • 1 stick butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 lb cream cheese
  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 8 oz bags of mini peanut butter candies
  • chocolate syrup

Preheat oven to 350F

Put cookie crumbles and salt in food processor.  Pulse until fine crumbs are created. Drizzle butter over the running processor until all butter incorporated.   Pat into bottom and up 1 inch on the side of a 9" X 3" tall spring form pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Put sugar, corn starch, room temperature cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla in the mixing bowl.  Attach whisk and beat until smooth.  Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, beating until each is just incorporated.

Spray inside of the spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line outside of pan with aluminum foil.  Place prepared spring form into a large pan or roaster. Sprinkle 1 8oz bag of peanut butter candies over the chocolate cookie crust.  Add cream cheese mixture to the spring form pan.  Place in oven.  Fill roaster with hot water about half way up the side of the spring form pan.

Bake 2 hours at 350f.  This cheesecake's top burns easily so you need to keep watch on it.  AT about 1 hour, 1 hour 20 minutes it will be golden brown.  At that point cover loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking.  At end of baking time, turn off oven and crack open the oven door.  Let sit in cooling oven for an hour.  At end of hour put on cooling rack and cool to room temperature.  When room temperature remove sides of spring form pan and then chill in refrigerator.

To serve, garnish with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and add few mini peanut butter cup candies from the remaining bag.

golden brown top prevented from burning with aluminum foil

Monday, May 30, 2016

Roasted Peach Sherbet

I love Sherbet, its even easier to make than ice cream.  Why?  None of that custard making and worrying about scrambling the egg because your mixture is to hot,

This Sherbet is quite the taste treat.  One can use fresh peaches but we are really a few weeks short of them here so I opted for frozen peaches.  If using fresh you can cut your roasting time by 10-15 minutes.

Using buttermilk and sour cream instead of half and half really works magic in the sherbet.  I adds just the right tang to offset the super sweetness of the roasted peaches.   Yummo.

Roasted Peach Sherbet
  • 4 c frozen peaches
  • 1 c sugar 
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • pinch salt
  • 1 c butter milk
  • 1/3 c sour cream

Preheat oven to 425F

In 8X8 oven safe baking dish add sugar, salt and peaches.  Split vanilla bean lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds and add seeds and pod to the peach mixture.  Toss to combine.  Bake in oven 50-60 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and sugar dissolved.  Remove from oven.  let cool and put into a container and cover.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours until cold.

In a large blender pour in buttermilk and sour cream.  Remove vanilla bean pod from the peach mixure.  Pour peaches and all the liquid into blender.  Blend on high speed uintil smoot.  Add mixture to ice cream maker and follow instructions to churn until smooth.  Enjoy straight from ice cream maker or spoon off to freezer safe container and enjoy later.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

Growing up spending summer with my Grandmothers in Ely Minnesota I managed to learn a few things about Blueberries and Rhubarb.  FACT.  They go together great in a pie.  No kidding.

This version is based loosely on my Grandmothers recipes.  I twisted it up with the inclusion of half a vanilla bean split and seeded to up the flavor quotient a bit.  Just remember to fish out the pod before you mix the filling.

I'm also a blueberry SNOB to the nth degree.  Those nasty grape size things sold in the grocery store certainly ARE NOT blueberries.  They are gritty, lack flavor and not worth the hard earned cash you spend on them. What is however worth it is buying frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joe's or similar grocery store. Yes you pay a premium but what you gain in texture and flavor is worth every buck more they cost you over the domesticated stuff.  Take that bit of wisdom to the groc your next trip and get the wild blueberries.

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 2 sheets pie crust
  • 3 stalks rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod
  • 3 c wild blueberries
  • 3 T corn starch
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water
  • 2 t coarse raw sugar

Preheat oven to 425F

Trim root end and leaves from rhubarb.  Slice into 1/2" chunks.  In non-reactive pan add sugar and 1/2 cup water. Add rhubarb. Split vanilla bean pod and scrape out seeds, adding seeds and pod to mixture.  Stir to dissolve sugar over medium heat.  When it begins to boil reduce heat and cook 5-8 minutes until rhubarb is just fork tender. 

Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean pod.  Add frozen blueberries and corn starch. Fold gently to combine. Set aside to cool.

Roll out bottom crust and loosely fit into pie plate.  Add cooled pie filling.  Roll out remaining crust for the top of pie. Gently place top crust onto pie.  Gently fold under into the bottom crust and crimp edges to seal.  Cut steam slits into top crust. 

Combine egg and 1T water, beat to incorporate.  With a pastry brush, lightly coat the top crust with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.  Place pie on a baking sheet to catch spills.  Bake for 1 hour.  At the half hour mark you may need to put foil on the edges of the pie to prevent from burning.
Cool on wire rack to room temp before serving.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Souffle' for one

I love a souffle'.  Its the perfect flavor delivery device.  Add cheese, especially a smoked cheese or similar rich flavored fermented dairy product and I'm in heaven.  Heaven I tell you.

This is stupid easy to make.  Simple steps.  Simply Divine treat at the start of the day or at dinner with a salad when you are home alone.

Souffle' for 1
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/8 t thyme
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup firm cheese like smoked Gouda, Gruyere or Stilton
  • butter for coating ramekin
  • 1 T grated Parmesan

Pre heat oven to 425F.

Coat inside of ramekin to the top edge of rim with butter.  Dust inside with Parmesan cheese.

In a small sauce pan melt butter.  Add flour and cook 1 minute whisking until smooth.  Add thyme, salt and cayenne pepper, whisk to combine.  Add milk and over low heat whisk until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat.

Add cream of tartar and egg whites to a small bowl. (copper bowls get greatest volume from egg whites).  Beat on high until soft peaks form....2-3 minutes,

Add egg yolk to milk mixture.  Whisk until smooth.  

Add 1/3 of the egg white to the yolk mixture.  Whisk to combine.  Pour this over remaining whites.  Sprinkle your 1/3 c cheese over the whites and gently fold to combine.  Some whites may remain...that's OK you just want to fold lightly to combine.

Put ramekin on a small sheet tray.  Pour souffle' mixture into ramekin.  Place in preheated oven.  Bake 5 minutes then reduce heat to 375F,  Bake additional 13-14 minutes.  Serve hot.

This is what happens when you don't butter the entire ramekin including the rim...a dry spot that causes it to stick on one side and rise lopsided.  My bad.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sea Salted Salmon on a bed of Zucchini "Noodles"

Simple food, simply prepared with minimal processing means healthier eating.  Most of the time.  At least that's what I tell myself.  At least the lack of migraines when I eat this way tells me I'm on the right track to living in a healthier way.

I broke down and got a mandolin with my stash of birthday cash.  Its a super sharp tool that slices uniformly any veggie that you want and adjusts to any depth you would want.  Add in the nifty julienne option and you can do perfectly uniforms trips in narrow or wide sizes.  Think noodle sized or french fry size with minimal effort.

I have to confess the zucchini as a noodle isn't an original idea.  I copped it from some TV show on where it was done as a the base for an appetizer.  I thought to myself then....hmmmm great way to use the old zucker in a new way and have fun with it.  Enter the mandolin that can slip slice and julienne perfectly long spaghetti like strands.  Being neutral in flavor you can zip it up as much as you'd like.  Added boner is swapping out fiber for carbs.  Total. Win.

The salmon is simply prepared.  Pepper and smoked sea salt then roasted.  Tastes lightly smoked as if done on a grill with out the fuss of charcoal.

Sea Salted Salmon on a bed of Zucchini "Noodles"

  • 2, 8 oz salmon fillets
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • 2 long medium sized zucchini
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • sea salt or kosher salt
  • olive oil

Pat salmon fillet dry.  Prepare  baking sheet with a light spritz of cooking spray. Season with pepper and smoked sea salt.  Place on prepared baking sheet and oven roast at 350F for 20 minutes.

While salmon is roasting wash your zucchini and dry them.  Prepare mandolin to slice thin julienne strips of the veggie.  Run zucchini across the cutting blades in long straight strokes stopping when you get to the seed core.  Rotate to each side cutting to seed core.  Discard seed cores.  Dice tomato, add zucchini and toss with garlic powder.

Heat a pan coated with a couple of tablespoons olive oil until starting to shimmer. Add zucchini mixture.  Toss to coat with oil.  Stir fry turning with tongs gently several times until they are soft and spaghetti like, about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To plate divide "noodles" between two plates.  Top with salmon fillet.  Enjoy with a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc.
"Noodles" of julienned zucchini with tomato and garlic powder resting
"Noodles" stir frying and softening

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Roasted Shrimp and Polenta

I'm really into the clean food movement, little if any processed foods in our diet here.  I like to start with good fresh ingredients and build flavor the old fashioned way avoiding tons of salt and preservatives.

I really like the Golden Pheasant brand polenta easily found in local grocery stores. Its just the right grind and fresh corn flavor to build flavor upon.  The key to polenta without lumps is to stir constantly with a whisk and slowly add polenta to the boiling water in small amounts and incorporate completely before adding the next bit.

Roasting shrimp is stupid easy and they can marinate in the flavors while you prepare the polenta.  They simply roast in a hot oven until pink and cooked effort on your part once they are on a sheet tray.

Roasted Shrimp and Polenta
  • 1 c Golden Pheasant polenta
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 t garlic salt
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan
  • 2 lbs 21-25 count shrimp
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 3 T olive oil 
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • salt 
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 400f

Peel and clean shrimp.  Place in mixing bowl.  Add minced garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and thyme.  Toss to combine.  Set aside while preparing the polenta.

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Add garlic salt.  Slowly whisk in polenta meal until it is well combined with no lumps.  Reduce heat to low and simmer slowly, stirring continuously until thick and big bubbles puff their way to the top...15-20 minutes.  Reduce heat to lowest setting and stir in Parmesan cheese.  

Spread shrimp onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until pink and cooked through.

Put a dollop of hot polenta in a serving bowl.  Ring it with Roasted shrimp and enjoy! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Herbs

Gnocchi is those little potato dumplings that are light as a feather and totally act as the best damn flavor carrier in the world.  I buy mine from a local Italian Deli (Claro's) to save time in the kitchen.  Fresh herbs and mushrooms in a brown butter sauce finishes them perfectly.  A quick shave of Parm gives it the final touch to take it from terrific to awesome.

I use cremini mushrooms (aka baby portabella) as they have a nuttier richer flavor than the more easily found white button mushrooms.  Easy swap with only a minor difference in flavor.

Browning butter is easy, takes a few minutes but the results are worth it....a richer nutty flavor to play off the mushrooms and accent the freshness of the herbs.Simply heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and stir gently until it stops foaming.  The milk solids in the butter will turn a golden brown and then you're ready to cook.

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Herbs
1 8 oz package gnocchi
1 stick unsalted butter
1 T minced garlic
8 oz cremini mushrooms - sliced
1 T fresh thyme (stripped from 4-5 stems)
1 T fresh sage - chiffonaded
Parmesan cheese

Brown butter.  Add mushrooms,garlic, thyme and sage when it stops foaming.  Saute until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste,  8-10 minutes,

Bring salted water to a boil.  Cook gnocchi according to package or recipe directions.  When they are done and floating remove with a spider and add to the browned butter and mushroom mixture.  Toss to coat.  Serve with a dusting of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Shrimp Chowder

This is a slightly richer tastier Shrimp Chowder than I had posted before...richer in that I add just a tidge of heavy cream the end for that smooth creamy mouth feel.  

At my house we like a  little heat so I use a full 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if you aren't a fan of the heat dial it back to taste.  But a little really plays nice with the inherent sweetness of the shrimp.  

Which gets me to my next point...Shrimp.  I splurge for the jumbo 21-25/lb as they are that much sweeter and more tender than the smaller variety.  Do make sure you buy the whole shrimp not the already peeled and deveined variety.  You need the shells and end bits for making the hearty stock.  And in terms of stock...use the whole vegetable leaves, skins and all for maximum flavor.

Unusual for me I opt for Russet in this recipe.  They absorb flavor nicely but more importantly hold their shape not dissolve into the stock as they cook until tender to the bite.  Important reason to use...they are there for shape and texture not to make a pot of mashed potato soup.

Shrimp Chowder
  • Shells and end bits from 2 lbs large Shrimp
  • 6 c water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 celery stalk - leaves included
  • 1 half included
  • 1 large carrot

  • 2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 onion - minced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 cups small diced potatoes
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/8-1/4 cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 T parsley
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 6 cups shrimp stock

Clean and devein your shrimp.  Place clean shrimp in colander and refrigerate until needed.  

Place shells with tail and heads into a large pan with 6c water.  Add salt and Old Bay Seasoning.  Add vegetables cut to fit into pan.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.  Pour stock through a fine meshed strainer and discard the solids.  Yield about 6 cups stock.

In large soup pan fry up bacon until crisp.  Reserve the fat.  Add pepper, butter, onion and garlic and sweat over moderate heat until translucent.  Add flour and stir until dissolved.  Add potatoes.  Add stock slowly and stir until smooth and begins to thicken.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer covered 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.  Test for salt and add as needed.

Add Parsley and shrimp.  Stir and cook 5 minutes over low heat stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in cream until dissolved.   Do not add cream while on the flame as the cream could curdle if overheated.

Serve the Shrimp Chowder hot with a crusty loaf of bread and a nice wine that can stand up to the rich and spicy shrimp!