Thursday, January 31, 2008

SOUP on a Cold Night to Warm the Heart and Tummy

Corn and Crab Chowder

I just love the creaminess of a good soup and I also love seafood of just about any kind! I am learning through reading other blogs that I have not been trying all the different kinds so I have no idea just how limited or not limited this statement actually is! Skate wing, for example, has never come into my vocabulary until earlier this month. The picture looked intriguing, fun, and scary. I think the hardest part would be finding where to shop for this lovely new culinary experience. Tonight, I think I will stick with the tried and true dungeness crab meat. This took me about 20 minutes to prep and another 35 minutes to cook. I originally found this recipe through the Bon Appetit Magazine a while back and I have made this several times since. Since I rarely make something twice, then this should speak volumes! The weather is cold so soup is wonderful right now. =D
1 (16-ounce bag) frozen petite white corn (do not thaw), divided
1 c. milk
1 (8-ounce bottle) clam juice
4 T. sliced green onions, divided
2 t. minced peeled, fresh ginger, divided
4 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice, divided
2 T. butter
8 ounces cooked crab meat, flaked
Reserve 1/4 cup corn. Bring remaining corn and milk to boil in medium saucepan. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Puree mixture in blender. Add clam juice, 3 Tablespoons green onions, and 1 teaspoon ginger; puree again until almost smooth. Return puree to saucepan; bring to simmer. Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn; saute 1 minute. Add crab, 1 Tablespoon green onions, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 3 teaspoons lemon juice; stir just until warm. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls; mound crab mixture in center.
Makes 4 servings

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuscan Bread Soup

I adore soups! Fun, healthy, and so *many* varieties! I had a loaf of fresh Ciabatta that was not so fresh anymore and I didn't want to waste it. On top of that, when you took a small whiff, well a wonderful aroma that only good bread gives is what I breathed in. How could I possibly not put this to use besides making it into breadcrumbs for dipping fish fillets or Pork Loin Chops into? So Tuscan Bread Soup came to mind. I used my homemade chicken broth that I froze earlier but a regular store bought chicken broth is just as delicious in this recipe. Big cubes of crusty bread is a must along with baking the bread slices to achieve a healthy golden brown color. Presentation ends up being just as beautiful as the flavor and aroma.

4 slices crusty Italian bread, 1 1/2 inches thick
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 Large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 t. minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 t. dried)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Place bread slices on baking sheet, brush tops with 1 T. oil, and bake until golden brown and crusty, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tablespoons oil in Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, cream, and thyme and simmer until onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut bread into 1-inch chunks and place in soup bowls. Ladle soup over bread, sprinkle with Parmesan, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve. YUM!

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 2008 Daring Baker Challenge

Jen from Canada posted our challenge for January of a beautiful lemon meringue pie. This dessert brings one word to mind: nostalgia, and I would love to thank her for the warm memories that go with making this pie. My father loved lemon meringue pie and my Mom loved chocolate meringue pie. As a child, whenever I wanted to bake something special for my parents, I would make both of these pies, one for each so that neither parent was left out. Of course, Mom and Dad shared with all 4 of us children but the pies were created because I knew how much our parents would enjoy it. Then I grew up and moved from home. Every year after, I would make at least one lemon meringue pie for Dad. This was a four hour drive to get to my parents, then make and bake the pie at their house. Dad always acted so surprised and appreciative! I would like to include in this that my Mom is no slouch as a baker. She can outbake me any day, any time. She just doesn't enjoy baking pies. Anyways, Mom and Dad moved to Yuma, AZ about 3 1/2 years ago and since I live in WA state, there is no more driving to my parents to bake anymore pies. This is terrible. I am crying and typing. They are happy tears and homesick tears, so it is okay. =) When I was making the lemon filling, the phone rang. It was my Mom and Dad was in the background. Laughter and memories were shared over the phone while I scooped lemon filling into the pie crust. Dad wanted me to send him a slice in the mail. . .hhhmmm, this could be a problem.
I have to laugh because I forgot just how fast cornstarch, sugar and water can go from soupy to a thick paste. It happens in a flash, doesn't it? I was just mildly stirring and not paying a lot of attention and then BOOM! I can't hardly stir and I have to get a cup of this thick mixture to the egg yolks. I don't know if anyone else got the pleasure of trying to drop small globs of thickened sweet cornstartch into eggs and pray they don't curdle but that is what happened to me! Everything turned out fine and the filling was smooth, silky and a bright lemony yellow but I did have quite the start.
The pillowy meringue topping is so much fun to try and swirl, lift and make pretty swooping designs on the top. I have to hand it to Jen for all the great ideas at the end for creativity as well. As many times as I have made this in the past, I have never thought to add or emblemish! Silly me! The idea for free form flat tart crusts is amazing to me and I am going to have to try this along with reading over some of the other daring baker's ideas! That is why this group is so addictive! Everyone coming at the same idea from different angles! Phenomenal! =D

Here is Jen's recipe as posted on the Daring Baker's site for all to see and Jen, Thank you =D.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
To Make the Meringue:Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets(from "Ripe for Dessert" by David Lebovitz)Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF. Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around. Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks.Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Serendipity's Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate Recipe
I splurged and bought myself the Serendipity Cookbook and this is one of the hot/cold beverages they serve. . .SO MUCH FUN to make AND DRINK! I absolutely love this and anyone that is a peanut butter lover might just absolutely LOVE this too! =D

I used Schokinag Triple Chocolate for the 6 1/2 ounces of mixed chocolate. For anyone that doesn't know, Schokinag is a European Drinking chocolate that you mix with a little warm milk to slowly melt the chocolate pieces before adding the rest of the milk to make a whole cup. This happens to be my all time favorite hot chocolate! The drink is sweet and rich BUT definitely an awesome treat! =D

6 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, and semisweet chocolate
3 T. sugar
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 c. chilled whipping cream
2 T. peanut butter
3 c. ice cubes
chocolate shavings

Place 6 1/2 ounces assorted chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Add sugar and cocoa and stir to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup milk; whisk until sugar dissolves. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat cream in small bowl until peaks form. Place remaining 1 cup milk, chocolate mixture, peanut butter, and ice in blender. Puree until smooth. Divide between 2 large glasses. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu:
Breaded Skinless Fish Fillets with Red Pepper Mayonnaise
Red Rice
Steamed Broccoli
I am working on dinner menus again. I try to keep organized and get menus for the week but then I come across a recipe that just jumps out at me. This time I was reading Bon Appetit, the January issue of this year, and there is a recipe for breaded skinless fish fillets (I am using a petrale sole) with red pepper mayonnaise. Thin fillets with a last coating of crustless French bread crumbs. The whole coating tastes light and with the fillets being sauteed quickly, I have a tender, flaky texture with LOTS of flavor without the greasiness of fried fish. I just have to add this fish recipe to my regular dishes. I also love rice but I needed something that added a little extra flavor to go with the medium punch delivered by the Red Pepper Mayonnaise so a nice red rice dish combining fresh tomatoes, onion, chili powder and diced red peppers was going to be my easy side dish. The whole dinner took less then 35 minutes to cook and I had a healthy meal on the table.

Breaded Skinless Fish Fillets with Red Pepper Mayonnaise

1 7 to 8-ounce red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 T. finely chopped fresh chives
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. coarsely ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 T. milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
4 5- to 6-ounce skinless thin fish fillets (such as flounder or petrale sole)
2 T. (or more) butter
2 T. (or more) olive oil

Using on/off turns, chop bell pepper in processor until juices form. Transfer to small sieve set over bowl; let drain 10 minutes. Mix next 4 ingredients in small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup bell pepper. Season mayonnaise with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Mix flour and next 2 ingredients in pie dish. Whisk egg and milk in another dish. Place breadcrumbs in third dish. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Coat each side with flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumbs, covering completely.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter with 2 Tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add fish to skillet. Saute until just opaque in center and crust is golden brown, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 4 minutes per side. Serve fillets with red pepper mayonnaise.

Red Rice

1 c. uncooked rice, not instant
2 T. peanut oil (I usually use grape seed oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 c. chicken broth
1 T. chili powder
salt to taste
Diced red or green pepper if desired

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add rice and stir. Heat until rice is just golden brown. Add garlic and onion and saute until onion just begins to brown.

Add tomato, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder, and salt. Also add diced peppers if using.

Lower the heat and cover.

Simmer 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and serve.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Family Favorite Soup

Thick and creamy with chunks of Potato and all the Toppings of a Baked Potato!The soup is simple yet has all the flavors of a fully topped baked potato. The soup is put together in half the time that it would take to actually bake a potato in the oven and you get to use a spoon so the title of this lovely family favorite. . .named by my Mom. . .is:

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
The potato skins are fried in bacon fat to give the soup an overall baked potato flavor. Also, there is plenty of smoky bacon, cheese, and sour cream with a touch of scallions. If you heat leftover soup back up, just remember to gently warm the soup in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Do not let the soup boil because the sour cream in the soup will seperate.

8 ounces bacon, chopped
3 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. all-purpose flour
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. dried thyme
2 c. shredded sharp cheese, plus additional for garnish
1 c. sour cream, plus additional for garnish
3 scallions, sliced thin

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. While bacon is cooking, use vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of potato peel; reserve peels, Cut peeled potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towels. Add reserved potato skins to bacon fat in pot and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potato skins to plate with bacon.

Add onion to fat remaining in pot and cook over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and flour and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth and cream, stir in thyme and potatoes, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.
Transfer 2 cups cooked potatoes to bowl. Puree remaining soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return to pot and warm over medium-high heat. Off heat, stir in cheese until melted, then whisk in sour cream, Return reserved potatoes to pot and season soup with pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with bacon, fried potato skins, scallions, and sour cream.

REHEATING LEFTOVERS: To reheat leftover portions of the Loaded Baked Potato Soup, gently warm the soup in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Do not let the soup boil, which will cause the sour cream to separate.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Strawberry Croissant French Toast

Bright and Cheery for Breakfast Making breakfast always feels like a rush. I think that is why I struggle with it so much. People tend to sleep in on the weekends and I never know when to start because no one wants to eat when their tummy isn't awake yet, so timing usually goes out the window and I always feel that I am making brunch instead of lunch.

I am in the mood for strawberries, mainly because the sun is out and yet it is chilly. Fred Meyers had strawberries but the berries are only half ripe. Meaning, the top 1/4 of the strawberry is white and the rest is red. I was reluctant to buy them but I am so hungry for something that reminds me of spring or early summer so I caved. A bright and cheerful breakfast is so worth it and I am happy to say that the strawberries did have a nice flavor so buying them was worth it.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground nutmeg
  • 2 c. fresh strawberries, leave some to make strawberry fans with
  • 1 8 ounce box of cream cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 T. sugar granulated
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 4 croissants, sliced in half, lengthwise


  • Rinse off strawberries and take off stem top. Slice the strawberries up and place in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine and then remove about 3 T. of strawberries for on top of croissants. The rest of the strawberries you will want to mash slightly. The juice at the bottom of the bowl will be drizzled over the top of the croissant at the end.
  • Warm skillet on medium heat and melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.
  • Dipping mixture: Mix together eggs, cream, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Dip the croissant halves into the mix to coat on both sides and place in the skillet flat side down first. Brown on each side and then remove from the skillet. Spread one half of croissant with cream cheese and top with about 3 Tablespoons of mashed strawberries. Set top half of croissant on filling. Drizzle strawberry sauce over croissant and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Set strawberry fan and serve.

Blueberry Buckle with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

Fred Meyers had blueberries on sale in the middle of January and this is one of my favorite coffeecakes to make. The buckle weighs a ton because of all 4 cups of fresh blueberries. The streusel is a perfect addition for added sweetness and brown sugar flavor and the cream cheese whipped cream is not overly sweet but adds another great creamy texture and flavor that pulls everything together and makes the breakfast coffeecake a WoW! dish. I was running around the house this morning trying to figure out where I thought I put the recipe for safe keeping. It was horrible! I hate that I do that. . .you know, think that you'll never forget where you put something, only to forget 2 days later. I am now putting this recipe into the computer so that I will always have it at my fingertips. . .except that this blog does not keep titles next to dates, so I'll have to figure out how I am going to remember that today I posted this recipe. This sounds so silly but I have so many recipes cataloged to try now, try later, for such-and-such holiday or event, for entertaining, for my daughter because it is basic, etc. Tried and True has a file already but the file is loaded. I have a 3-ring binder that is full so I put the recipe inside of, what was then, my favorite cookbook. My tastes have changed I guess. So here is my super moist and yummy blueberry buckle:

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
Pinch table salt
4 T. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
10 T. unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened but still cool
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. table salt
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 c. fresh blueberries
Cream Cheese Whipped Cream:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c. confectioners' sugar
pinch table salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. heavy cream

1. For streusel: In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds. Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.
2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper round, and spray round; dust pan with flour and knockout excess.
3. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl. Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Squeeze handful of streusel in hand to form large cohesive clump; break up clump with fingers and sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).
5. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen, Place upside-down plate (do not use plate or platter on which you plan to serve the cake) on top of cake pan; invert cake to remove from pan, lift off cake pan, then peel off and discard parchment. Re-invert cake onto serving platter. Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream with directions stated below. . .
In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds; scrape down bowl. With machine running at low speed, add heavy cream in slow steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds soft peaks when whisk is lifted, another 1-2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Serve with blueberry buckle.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Dense and dark, bittersweet chocolate. Small wedges of this decadent cake go a long ways and the whipped cream mixed with Frangelico liqueur is a perfect accompaniment for the dessert. The chocolaty cake is easy to make and the key to success is patience. Baking time is 1 1/2 hours and refrigeration time is a minimum of 3 hours. If I am going to host a dinner party and serve this dessert, then the timing is perfect because the cake can be made ahead of time. If I am in a rush for some serious chocolate mood adjustment. . .I need to move on to a different quick fix remedy! I would say that a group of 12 people could easily be fed this cake because it is soooo rich.
Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

12 ounces 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 large eggs
1 c. (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 c. Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur, divided
1 c. finely ground hazelnuts (ground in processor; about 5 ounces)
1 t. coarse kosher salt
1 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
Chopped toasted hazelnuts


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter 9-inch diameter spring form pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round. Wrap outside of pan tightly with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Combine chocolate and butter in medium metal bowl set bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water.
Whisk eggs, golden brown sugar, and 1/4 cup Frangelico in large bowl to blend. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in ground hazelnuts and 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Place spring form pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of spring form pan. Pl;ace in oven and tent spring form pan loosely with foil Bake until cake is set in center and top is dry to touch, about 1 1/2 hours (top of cake will remain shiny). Remove cake from roasting pan; remove foil from top and outside of pan. Cool cake in pan on rack. Chill cake until cold, about 3 hours.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream and remaining 1/4 cup Frangelico in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Cut cake into wedges. Transfer to plates. Top with whipped cream; sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
This recipe came from the 08' Bon Appetit Magazine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A little Steak, A little Shrimp, A little Fun

Wine reduction may be simple if you are a cook who is learning to be a chef and you have to repeat the process 200 times in a semester. If you are me with hungry people to feed and they don't have so much patience or really want to hear. . ."can you give me a minute, I think I am going to redo this part" without thinking that maybe you now live in a third world because starvation has set in and loud sighing has become the new language of choice, then you may just do the best you can the first time and call it good! I made a wine reduction out of Merlot. Not just any Merlot. This Merlot won a silver medal in 2003. I opened the bottle of wine and let it breath for about an hour. No, I didn't let it breath so that I could cook the stuffings out of it but because I was only using 1 1/2 cups of the wine and the rest was going to be savored with dinner. I think my efforts were going rather smoothly. Steaks cooked and set on a platter with a wedge of Boursin cheese set on top of each steak to melt. First sign of a problem? Cheese is not melting. Pour Merlot into the skillet and mix with steak flavorings in bottom of pan. The idea is to reduce the wine into a sauce consistency. It was suppose to only take about 5 minutes. I did reduce the wine but the sauce was not as thick as I thought it was suppose to get. The addition of butter and herbs really brought everything together but I wish I didn't feel like I had to rush the whole process because people were telling me that they were starving and that I really didn't need to go all out. I should have let everyone else fix peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and took my own Damn time. I don't want to throw a dinner together at night. I get bored and there is no excitement. I like to have something to look forward too when I cook. I don't think I am asking a lot! I mean, I could cook a bag of Top Ramen and throw a bag of frozen veggies in it and call that cooking but then my stove would feel SO offended. I really want to make this again, but this time I will GIVE myself more time to do the recipe. I had all the ingredients pre-measured and waiting their turn but sometimes cooking is about patience and allowing the cooking process to actually work its' magic. Just like custard. If you rush custard, you have custard syrup instead of custard pudding. Letting things come together requires drinking the wine while the dinner cooks. . .so that you are calm and relaxed. All those other voices just seem to fade away. =) Okay, they don't but I feel better now.
RibEye Steaks with Boursin and Merlot Sauce
1 T. olive oil, divided
3 9 to 10-ounce RibEye Steaks, rimmed (about 1-inch thick)
1/4 of 5.2 ounce package Boursin or other French garlic cheese cut, into 3 wedges
1 1/2 c. Merlot or other fruity red wine
1/4 c. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 t. chopped fresh Italian Parsley
2 t. chopped fresh chives plus whole chives for garnish
Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over edium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter; top each with 1 cheese wedge. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Pour off drippings from skillet; add wine to skillet and boil over high heat until reduced to a generous 1/2 cup, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter and stir until melted. Mix in parsley and chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over steaks. Garnish with whole chives.
Included with dinner was:
Romaine with Viniagrette
Shrimp marinated in Beer and herbs
Baked Potato with sour cream and herbs

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fried Egg and Sausage Ciabatta Breakfast Pizzas

I had a LOT of fun making these cut little breakfast pizzas. I found the recipe in the New Bon Appetit magazine and since I am always looking for new ideas on the ol breakfast theme, I thought I would give it a try. Sunny side up eggs were easy to take out of the pan because you let them sit in the pan for a couple of minutes while the pizzas bake. The whole recipe was easy and the end result was fun to eat. I found that picking this contraption up with my fingers was easier to eat then using a knife and fork because Ciabatta bread toasted is a little harder to cut without making a mess out of the egg. Try it and you'll see. I'm terrible in that I love food that I can eat with my fingers. Sushi would be better to me if it were polite to use my fingers because the little molded rice bundles with toppings look perfect for fingers. I don't know if you have guessed by now but chopsticks are still a work in progress! The last time I went to a Japanese restaurant, the room was packed full of people and the group I was with were all seated at a large round table situated in the middle of the restaurant. Food was ordered for me by friends from Japan and, of course, I am all excited and nervous. . .uhmmm, no forks present. Just chopsticks. It's okay, I have the basics down. Food is served and would you believe that it seemed like all the food looked slippery? Yep, first bite I tried to take, the slippery little bugger flew out of my chopsticks and landed several tables away! I didn't know you could feel your face turn each shade of red and for that long! Of course, now everyone is giving me chopstick lessons. . .after they caught their breath from laughing. I have practiced at home since then and I am not overly excited to try these skills anytime soon at another restaurant. Yeesh!
Okay, I am back on track again. Breakfast! I loved this combination because I can change it up for different twists on flavor just like pizza. Being that I absolutely adore cheese, I can see all kinds of different combinations of cheeses being tried on this along with different kinds of meat toppings. I forgot to serve the pizza with hot sauce but then I didn't know any different at the time and loved it!
P.S. . .I cut this recipe in half because there were not 8 people present. Easy to do!

1 loaf ciabatta bread (about 1 pound)
1 c. chopped green onions
8 T. olive oil, divided
8 ounces sliced hot pepper Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Pound spicy or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
8 Large eggs

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cut bread horizontally in half. Place bread halves, cut side up, on sperarate baking sheets. Mix onions and 6 Tablespoons oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve 2 Tablespoons onion oil and spread remaining onion oil over bread. Top with cheese.

Saute' Italian sausages in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up with spoon, about 7 minutes. Divide sausage among bread halves. Bake pizzas until cheese melts and bread begins to crisp, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon oil in each of 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Crack 4 eggs into each skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let eggs stand in skillets while pizzas bake.

Arrange 4 eggs atop each pizza. Spoon reserved onion oil over eggs. Cut each pizza between eggs into 4 pieces. Serve with a little hot sauce.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Coconut Tart with Passion Fruit Cream

My picture is dark and I am still working on trying to figure out which mode to have the digital camera set at. This is driving me crazy because I keep trying different ones and then I forget which one I did and did not use. If I would just stick to one and take pictures, download the grumble, grumble, snort, pictures, run back upstairs and take some more pictures with a different setting and do the same process again. . .only with louder grumbling, until I can figure out which is the best setting. . .then I just may get excited about taking pictures! Right now, frustration. . .that is it in a nutshell. Some of my pictures turn out great. . .a very *few* of them and when they do I get all excited, till I once again remember that I have NO IDEA what setting I was on at the time. . .because, of course, I changed the setting.

This is my first tart ever. I was so excited! I was afraid of making it because everyone around me doesn't like coconut and there is just NO WAY I am going to eat a whole tart. I wanted to make this recipe for so long that I just jumped in and did it. The funny thing is that I had an accounting exam today and I completely stressed myself out! I feel like a basket case as we type and I have to still get up at 4:30 in the morning for work. Well, this whole recipe was such a pick-me-up. I have never tried passion fruit before so that was a new experience too. Here is a picture just in case there is someone else out there that has not seen one on the outside or inside either. =D I strained the seeds from the pulp to make a nice puree and the aroma was almost citrus and floral. I absolutely LOVED it and I can't wait to try this again. My downfall to making this recipe was the fact that I used regular sweetened coconut because I did not have any unsweetened, medium shredded coconut on hand. This tart had a flakey and butter tasting crust that was phenomenal and the filling had just the right touch of lime juice and peel to go with the coconut cream and the shredded coconut. Oh, of course, there is the addition of rich cream and eggs. What I appreciated was the fact that even though I used sweetened, shredded coconut, the tart still wasn't overly sweet. I fell in love with the flavor on the first bite and everyone that tried it agreed. . . and I am the only coconut appreciater!



1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. sugar

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 large egg yolks (My blog is double-spacing at this time and I have no idea why, sorry)


1/3 c. sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 t. grated lime peel

2/3 c. whipping cream

1/2 c. canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as CoCo Lopez-Available in the liquor section of most supermarkets)

3 T. fresh lime juice

1 1/4 c. unsweetened medium shredded coconut

Passion Fruit Cream

3/4 c. chilled whipping cream

1/2 c. sugar

1/3 c. sour cream

5 T. passion fruit pulp without seeds, unless you enjoy the seeds. . .then you can leave them in =D (If seeds are left in then 5 Tablespoons will equal about 8 ripe, fresh passion fruits)


Crust: Mix first 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms, Add egg yolks; process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Chill 1 hour.

Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake crust until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Filing: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl 1 minute. Stir in whipping cream, cream of coconut, and lime juice, then shredded coconut. Transfer to prepared crust. Bake until set in center and top is golden, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely.

Do Ahead: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Passion Fruit Cream: Whisk cream, sugar, and sour cream in medium bowl until thickened. Add passion fruit pulp without seeds, unless you like the crunchie little seeds. Whisk until peaks form.

Cut tart into wedges. Serve with dollop of passion fruit cream.

Very Good and this recipe came from Petit Piton in Soufriere in St. Lucia.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Almost Apple Pie a la Mode

I am suppose to be doing homework for my accounting finals for this weekend and I keep finding something to sidetrack me. Nothing like a little extra pressure and stress! What is dinner without dessert and a cheater dessert at that. I had a poundcake in the freezer that keeps calling for me to use it. . .so tonight was its lucky night! I made a mock apple pie a la mode with a twist. What's the twist. . .aside from the pound cake? I used pecan ice cream and caramel sauce. I just bought a jar of caramel sauce at a gourmet store that was made here in WA. I just couldn't resist and I am supporting small businesses close to home. That is what I am telling myself and I am sticking to it! Here is what I did:

Warm apple compote:
4 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 loaf plain pound cake, sliced 1 1/2-inch thick and slightly toasted (I used the broiler to toast both sides)
1 pint of Pecan Ice Cream
1 14 1/2 ounce jar of prepared caramel sauce, warmed. . .you won't need the whole jar

Make Compote:
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat butter with sugar until butter is melted. Add apple slices and saute until lightly browned and caramelized, about 10 minutes. (Apples should be soft but not mushy.)

Assemble Dessert:
Place a slice of pound cake on a dessert plate and spoon over a generous helping of apples with cooking liquid. Top with a scoop of pecan ice cream. Drizzle with warmed caramel sauce.
NOTE: You can also try vanilla ice cream with warmed chocolate sauce. This would be really GOOD too! =D

Black Bean Soup with Chorizo and Chicken

I am in such a soup mood today. Ashley, my daughter, is staying the night at her friend's house so it is safe for me to make this. Nothing like a finicky eating teenage daughter to look at you like you have lost your marbles because the food "just isn't normal". Long sigh. I have no idea where this child's taste buds came from but sometimes there are terrible thoughts of her making dinner for the family for a week but then we would be having corn dogs or macaroni and cheese every night. When we go to other family's homes, she eats everything in front of her and never whinces once. Not once! Always polite and tells the host it is delicious. Later, of course, I get the full story of what she didn't like or her wanting to know what the heck she just ate. . .which cracks me up every time. I pulled a fast one on her one night and told her she was eating chicken, when in fact she was eating rabbit. You see, when I was growing up, my family did not have much but it felt like we had the whole world because my parents had a huge vegetable garden, we raised rabbits and chickens for food and Mom baked all our bread. We also lived near the Pacific Ocean so we dug razor clams, pryed mussels off of rocks, ate fresh fish and crab. . .the good old days. Mom and I used to also go mushroom picking. My fondest memory is making homemade taffy with Mom. I was probably about 7 years old but I remember Mom spreading butter on my hands and the taffy being really warm and pulling, and pulling, and pulling. Yep. I had a blast!
Back to today. I cheated. I wanted to make this soup with the Chorizo but I STILL have sausages left that are roasted pepper with five cheese chicken sausage. I made the mistake of going to Costco. . .and of course they only sell things in humongous sizes, so what was suppose to be for Calzones earlier seems to be multiplying at a rapid rate in my refrigerator. I swore I only had a few left before I made the soup tonight. I STILL have a few left. Ugh! Either way, this soup is delicious. The broth is thin, but then it is suppose to be and the flavors are really nice together. I enjoy a lot of vegetables in my soups, so this soup was perfect. The sausage flavor didn't overpower the chicken and the black beans. This soup recipe came from the Siena restaurant in Cape Cod, MA.
Black Bean Soup with Chorizo and Chicken
2 T. olive oil
1 pound fresh chorizo or other spicy sausage, casings removed
2 c. chopped peeled carrots
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh thyme
5 c. (or more) low-salt chicken broth
3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and next 4 ingredients. Saute' until sausage is cooked through, breaking up sausage with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; saute' 2 minutes. Add 5 cups broth; bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes. Add beans and chicken; simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes, adding more broth if desired. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sooo In LOVE with Tuscan Chicken

I can not believe that I canned my brains out towards the end of this last summer and have totally forgotten all about using any of my hard-earned gems! What the Heck? Well, I opened a quart jar of my canned Italian Stewed Tomatoes for this dish and Boy, was I happy with the flavor and aroma! If I ever needed a nudge to jump back into the canning world in the near future, this was it. Just opening the jar and having all that aroma wafting out was intoxicating and a renewed, proud moment was enjoyed. I felt none of the aches and pains of standing on my feet for hours at a time, trying to get hundreds of pounds of produce canned because I have no self-control when it comes to fresh food and trying something new! I come from a long line of family members that view new experiences as all or nothing! My Grandma tackled sewing and started making pillows first. Well she went from one color of fabric to marching right back to the craft store and purchasing every shade of this fabric (all 10 of them) just so that she could go home and make these pillows, with a small checker print, cross stitch threaded x's in cream colored, heavy thread and then proceed to sell them. How she found people to sell them to, I have no idea! Grandma and Grandpa were never hurting for money by any means. She just always had to be making a profit. The sewing projects escalated from there. Then there is Dad! He wanted to learn fine wood working. He taught himself how to make the most beautiful wood boxes that all came together by tongue and groove and any holes were filled from the sawdust sanded from the wood prior. This sawdust was mixed with a little wood glue and the slight wood imperfections were filled. The Cherry and/or Maple wood boxes were about 18 inches wide, 10 inches across and 4 inches deep. The inside of these beautiful, smooth, perfect boxes were coated with crushed velvet. The clasp on the front was small, delicate and gold. My father perfected the one and continued making them until he was burned out. I can remember as many as a dozen. These boxes took hours of patience and care. He then went on to bigger and better fine wood working projects. A lot of fond childhood memories!
See, I come by it naturally. Not as grand as their's, but go until you have exhausted your intrigue or continue and grow.

Okay, back to my Tuscan Chicken Dish. This dish is everything in one dish: sauteed chicken cutlets topped with fresh spinach and drizzled with lemon aioli. The recipe came from The Tasting Room in Omaha, NE. I had so much fun making all the different steps that created the one flavorful *and*colorful dish. My regret is that I plated this in a dish that was too busy and took away from the food. I was tired by this time and just wasn't thinking. This was so good that I know I will be making it again very soon.


(Tomato Confit Ingredients)

1/2 c. mayonnaise

4 T. fresh lemon juice, divided
5 T. olive oil, divided

1/3 c.chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of dried crushed red pepper

1/2 c. dry white wine

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Pinch of Cayenne pepper

3 large eggs

1 c. grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese, divided

2 T. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

3 T. butter

4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut horizontally in half

2 (4-inch) pieces baguette, halved horizontally (I used a sour dough Baguette)

4 c. fresh spinach (about 2 ounces)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)


Whisk mayonnaise and 3 T. lemon juice in small bowl.

Heat 3 T. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper; saute until shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add wine; simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice. Simmer until thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Season tomato confit with salt and pepper. Cool.

DO AHEAD: Lemon mayonnaise and tomato confit can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Set rack in rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Whisk flour and pinch of cayenne pepper in wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs, 3/4 c. cheese, and basil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with pepper. Melt butter with remaining 2 T. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge chicken breasts in flour, shaking off excess. Dip into egg mixture to coat. Transfer chicken to skillet and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Place on prepared rack. Transfer to oven to keep warm while cooking remaining chicken.

Place baguette slices, cut side down, in any remaining butter-oil mixture in skillet and cook until toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer to work surface; spread toasted baguette slices with the tomato confit. Place 2 chicken cutlets in each of 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle with some of lemon mayonnaise. Top with spinach, drizzle with remaining 1 T. lemon juice, olive Oil, and any remaining lemon mayonnaise. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese; season with salt and pepper. Tuck 1 baguette slice inside each bowl.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Dish for Entertaining for Romance or Friends and Family =D

(Yellowtail Sashimi)

The world is full of wonders, flavors, ideas and choices. Now add to that whole combination the fact that every person around the world views, tastes and enjoys things slightly different then everyone else! I was thinking about this today. Food is important to me because my Mom and Dad used food as an invitation for bringing friends together just about every weekend. Laughter, talking, discussing, playing games and having fun coupled with my Mom's fabulous cooking is how my whole view on food began. My Grandma totally cooked around Grandpa. . .but boy did she cook! Her apple pies were to die for and Grandpa had the most wonderful vegetable garden ever (which is why I am constantly dreaming of having a garden just like his) and everything Grandma made had something freshly grown from their own hands, or if in the winter, something canned from there garden the summer previous.

Okay, that is family. Now friends. A whole new scenario of people. Different backgrounds and tastes. My best friend has a mother that is 100% Japanese and a father that is 100% German. The food that is enjoyed by this wonderful family is mind boggling to say the least. You can go from Sushi one minute to homemade sausages and potatoes the next but the flavors and seasonings are handed down from generations of cooking. Kind of like my family and what I learned. My friends include those I have never met in person but have corresponded with over the computer. Each person's idea of a great dish is intriguing and fun! I could not imagine living in a world where a person limited themselves to a specific diet that contained very little flavor or change. There is just to much to explore. I decided to take on an Asian dish that kept the ingredients simple but with lots of color and flavor. I am learning to really enjoy food presentation. Running around the kitchen and downstairs where I also keep fun dishes, I am always trying to find the right dish to set my food on and then fidget with how I want the food placed for pictures. Color is becoming really important. As I continue to explore, I find myself wanting to continue challeging myself. . .and hopefully not falling on my face too much. With that said, I jumped into the world of Asian cooking. I would like to state that I sooo need an Asian aide when entering an Asian market because it took me over 40 minutes to find a dozen ingredients. Hardly anything was in English and what was. . .well, it wasn't called the same as what I had written on my piece of paper that represented a grocery list. The grocery boy that was helping me was smirking about something and I am still wondering what the heck it was? =.

I made. . .TaDaaaaahhhhh:
Seared Yellowtail Sashimi with Kumquats, Asian Greens, and Miso Vinaigrette


1/2 c. sake

2 T. seasoned rice vinegar

2 T. fresh lemon juice

2 T. white miso

1/2 c. grapeseed oil

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1 T. grated lemon peel

1 pound sushi-grade Yellowtail

Shichimi togarashi - A Japanese red-pepper seasoning

Vegetable oil

Japanese spicy sprouts, such as Daikon sprouts, baby mizuna or Wasabi sprouts

2 T. chopped chives

4 kumquats, thinly sliced, optional


Whisk first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in cilantro and lemon peel.

DO AHEAD: Miso vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Sprinkle fish generously with togarashi. Place fish on paper-towel-lined plate and chill 30 minutes. Heat heavy large skillet over high heat; brush lightly with oil. Add fish and cook until seared on all sides, about 1 minute total. Transfer fish to work surface; slice thinly.

Arrange fish slices on 8 plates. Drizzle 1 T. miso vinaigrette over fish on each plate. Garnish with sprouts, sprinkle with chopped chives and kumquat slices, if using, and serve, passing additional vinaigrette alongside.

This recipe came from a restaurant in Anaheim, California called the NAPA ROSE. =D

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shortbread Biscuits With Lemon Icing Filling

I thought I was going to be good and just cook dinner and look through my new Bon Appetit Magazine that came in the mail. I also am starting to plan what flower seeds I need to start right now. Then there is the flower box outside of my kitchen window that I have always been wanting to incorporate herbs with flowers so that when I want to season something, well, I would be able to just open my window and clip what I needed with the kitchen sink ever so conveniently located directly underneath the window. I think it would be perfect! For some reason, this is still on my to do list. . .but with all this set to the side burner my issue was with dinner tonight. . .and feeling a little deflated =.

There is this cookbook that I just love and it is written by Mrs. Appleyard. The reason that I absolutely love this cookbook is because she writes the book like a story and yet it contains hundreds of wonderful recipes that all have a history behind them. The cookbook is seasonal, meaning that she has broken the book down into the different seasons of the year. Mrs. Appleyard loves to preserve food, has a freezer that contains tidbits of everything and she has the inner need to entertain and take care of everyone. . .and so, like my Grandma, my Mom and Mrs. Appleyard, I too like to can food (just learned how this last summer), keep my freezer stocked and my pantry stocked. The problem with the freezer being full of tidbits like homemade turkey stock, thick sliced bacon, a great sale on fresh prawns, etc., is that I have yet to learn how to catalog this huge freezer full of everything. You know what this means, I have to search and rescue from time-to-time so that I don't lose any of my treasures. I get all excited about all these new recipes, dig in my freezer to see if I still have blanched corn frozen from this last summers crop, only to discover that I really need to do something with several pounds of hamburger, 3 ribeye steaks, a ziploc bag full of leftover turkey meat and a Shrimp stirfry kit. Well, dinner tonight became homemade hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes. Oh yes! I had Yukon Gold potatoes that needed to be used. . .about 5 pounds worth, so mashed potatoes it was. I have learned to mash potatoes with 1/2 c. butter, 4 oz. cream cheese, salt and pepper for seasoning and some whipping cream to help contribute to the fluff and creamy texture. I also made the stirfry kit so that I could take some for lunch tomorrow. I felt completely bummed because nothing was new and exciting. Then I found this second wind and decided that I would throw together some Shortbread Biscuit cookies with Lemon Icing Filling for dessert. These little cookies are light, soft and have a crumbly texture. Very few ingredients are needed to make them and the longest period of the whole recipe is the waiting time for the cookies to cool so that the icing can be spread on and sandwiched between two of these cookies. The recipe comes from a lady in Brisbane, AU and she decided to share this recipe and I am so glad that she did!

200g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup icing sugar
20g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 tbspn lemon juice (substitute with other flavouring as desired)
Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F)
Place butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer and beat for 8 - 10 minutes or until creamy and pale.
Add flour and beat until smooth dough forms.
Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls, place on prepared baking tray and press with a fork.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, cool on wire racks.
Mix all ingredients until smooth, Spread mixture on the base of half the biscuits and sandwich together with the remaining halves.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ricotta Calzones with Sausage borrowed from Taste and Tell

I have so many recipes set aside to try that I am constantly overwhelmed! I have new cookbooks that I want to try and I am constantly making menus for the week, only to adapt the menu to new recipes I am finding on fellow food blogger sites. The pictures are absolutely beautiful and I have to admit that I am striving to learn photography, not only for food pictures, but for pictures of my garden and flowers, friends and family, and nature. I constantly get new ideas and it feels like there is just not enough time in the day to implement all these great ideas. I saw a picture of Julia Child's kitchen that was taken apart from her old home and reassembled at the Smithsonian Museum, I believe is what I read, and her husband had orginally designed this kitchen for her. By the way, Julia Child has always been the chef that I have looked up too and still do! To me, she is simply amazing! I am getting distracted from my new idea that I got from her kitchen and that is pictures hanging on her kitchen cupboard doors. Is that not cool? I just love that. . .and I would like to get pictures of my favorite dishes that I have made and photographed to frame them in contrasting matting so that I can do the same thing. I need to work on the idea a little more to get it to fit into my world, but I just love the gist of the whole thing.Okay, I made my dinner menu for the week and I also couldn't quit thinking about Deborah's Ricotta Calzones at Taste and Tell so I came home tonight, threw my whole dinner menu for the night into the wind and jumped head first into making pizza dough for the Calzones. I would like to say that this is a whole new experience for me. The world of blogging and seeing other peoples ideas from around the world pushes me to try new food ideas and techniques. . .and all I originally started my blog for was to record my own cooking efforts. I had no idea what a wonderful world of cooking that this blogging idea would bring. I look at other fellow cook's masterpieces and feel that I already have their support because there is a story behind the dish along with a picture of the final triumph after the seasonings settle in the kitchen!
So, I pulled out my pizza stone. Never have I used a bread or pizza stone before in my life NOR have I seen someone else use one in their oven. The whole experience was new and exciting! I used a roasted pepper and five cheese chicken sausage for the meat of the filling and Deborah was so right about the Calzones turning out perfect the first time. The crust *was* crunchy and chewy and the filling was creamy with the Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and Mozarella cheese wrapped around seasoned sausage. I rolled by little dough balls into 9-inch circles and rested them on their parchment paper beds. I spread the filling in the middle and learned how to seal the edges of the dough by wrapping the edge over my index fingertip. When they were ready to go into the oven, I almost felt sad to bake them because I felt so proud of my accomplishment. When they did come out of the oven, off of my now broken in pizza stone, the Calzones were a beautiful golden brown color with the prettiest edging. The Kosher salt was glistening from the lights shining down on the Calzones and they were almost to pretty to eat. . .almost. =D

So Deborah's recipe for these scrumptious Calzones is Taste and Tell: Cookbook of the Month Recipe - Calzones. BTW, I so hope that this link works! This is a first for me and I have been trying to figure out how to do a link for the last four months. . .Yeesh! =D Happy Monday to everyone!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Beignets, pronounced ben-YAY, refers to a French doughnut being a pastry made from deep-fried dough and sprinkled with confectioners sugar. This recipe for Beignets has a fantastic texture and the flavor is not overly sweet. I just toss the beignets in a paperbag that has about 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and shake. Thats it and they are soooo good warm with a cup of fresh brewed coffee or tea. It may not make to much sense to put a yeast dough into the refrigerator but don't worry. The yeast is more for the flavor then it is for the rising abilities. I made my dough up the night before and then fried them in the morning to go with breakfast. This recipe ends up making quite a few Beignets, but sharing is always good, right? =D Also, if you like, freezing the dough before frying works great! I learned this the hard way.
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees F.)
1/2 c. white sugar
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1 c. evaporated milk
7 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1/2 c. confectioners sugar

(Dough Before Going into the Refrigerator)

In a large bowl, such as a mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
**I make the dough the night before and just cook them up in the morning to go with coffee.**

Roll out dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Fry in 360 degree F. hot oil. If beignets do not pop up, oil is not hot enough. I fry for about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side. I use a chop stick to flip them over in the oil.
Drain on paper towels.
Use a paper bag and put confectioners sugar inside. Shake the hot beignets and serve warm. . .very tastey!

(Before Adding Confectioners Sugar)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bacon Appetizers Borrowed From Taste and Tell

Well, I am feeling rather accomplished tonight. Nothing like starting out a new year by organizing the kitchen and getting a second wind. I didn't think that I would find the time to make anything exciting for little fingerfoods but you know? I have been dropping by a few other blogs and I just couldn't quit thinking about the blog Taste and Tell's Bacon Appetizer Crescents! Deborah took the absolute best picture of this wonderful little appetizer and I think that I subconsciously made sure to get all the ingredients for the recipe while out-and-about today. In the picture, you see tidbits of bacon within a creamy filling, enveloped inside a crescent roll. I found myself pulling all the ingredients out and setting them onto the counter, thinking that the recipe should only take about 15 minutes to assemble before baking. I had extra onion left over in the refrigerator that I wanted to use so I added a little more onion to the recipe then it called for(I'll remember not to do that again. . .mainly because I am typing it here now =)). I still haven't figured out how to do a link that directs you to the place I am speaking of so I will just have to resort to copying her recipe here. . .because I don't want to lose the recipe so that I can have it for future use and be able to give myself pointers that I won't remember later.

I always cook my bacon in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Just line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lay out the bacon. Turn the bacon over half way through the baking time and TaDa! No mess on the stove top and the bacon is perfect! Instead of crumbling the bacon, I used kitchen scissors and cut the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients and I think that the bacon size turned out really well. I used thick sliced bacon and dried parsley instead of fresh. I don't think this appetizer had enough time to cool down before they were devoured by movie watching people. You see, by the time I made these, the football games were over for the day. Just highlights. I did say that I couldn't quit thinking about this appetizer and got a second wind, Yes?

Bacon Appetizer Crescents as per Deborah at Taste and Tell (So far I only know how to copy and paste a link)

From Kraft Foods via Just Baking

Prep Time: 30 min

Total Time: 45 min

Makes: 8 doz. or 24 servings, four crescents each

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
8 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/3 cup KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. milk
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Mix cream cheese, bacon, Parmesan cheese, onions, parsley and milk until well blended; set aside. Separate each can of dough into four rectangles; firmly press perforations together to seal. Spread each rectangle with 2 rounded tablespoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture. Cut each rectangle into 12 wedges. Roll up wedges, starting at short ends. Place, seam-sides down, on greased baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm.