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Tuesday
Jun072011

Hilton Head Monthly's - Eating Well

Photo by Rob Kaufman

 

 

$50.  One Farmer's Market. Three Meals

     I hit our very own Farmer's Market @ Honey Horn here on the Island for Hilton Head Monthly.  My assignment was to come up with a meal using ingredients from the market on a $50.00 budget.

     There was so much to pick from!  In the end the menu was:

Bruschetta with Casevs on Pappon

Fettuccini with Lowcrountry Shrimp and Squash

Peach and Brandy Sauce for Ice Cream

Click on the link above, the individual recipes or the picture for the ingredients and details!

Friday
May132011

Eggplant Parmesan - To peel or not to peel...that is not the question

     PEEL…that’s the answer!  Then there’s no tough bitter skin to deal with.  After hacking my way through the basil and then covering the kitchen and myself with tomatoes I needed to do something with all that sauce.

      The eggplant looked good at the grocery store so there I had it.  Then I started thinking about all the dipping, breading and frying.  And about the way the eggplant slices soak up all that oil.  I decided that was way to heavy for my fresh sauce and hips.

     So I made a lighter version just brushing the slices with a little olive oil then roasting them until they turned a lovely golden color.  The result was a lighter tastier version of the fried classic.

      Don’t get me wrong, oh how I love the traditional egging, breading, and frying.  But this, for one thing, was quicker, easier, and didn’t give my kitchen that fried food smell.

     One thing to note cut the slices fairly thick (about ¼ inch) that way they won’t shrivel and disintegrate into nothing.  I served this as sort of a pasta substitute with grilled veal chops.  It was a hit all the way around.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 Eggplant – peeled and sliced in ¼ inch pieces

7 oz grated Parmesan cheese (or pecorino – v.tasty too!)

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

8 cups of fresh tomato sauce – maybe a little more or less depending on the size of your dish

Olive oil

     Preheat oven to 450°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place eggplant slices on baking sheet and brush with a little olive oil.  Roast for 7-10 minutes until golden.  Flip them over brush the other side with olive oil and roast for an additional 5 or so minutes.  Keep an eye on them you want the slices to be tender but not collapsed. 

     Spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  Top with eggplant slices, sprinkle some grated Parmesan over then top with more tomato sauce, etc, etc…Top the last layer with mozzarella cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly around the edges.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Let sit about 5 minutes before tucking in!

 

Sunday
May012011

Tomato Basil Sauce - the easy way

 

 

The other day I looked at my basil plant and thought OH NO!  I better make something fast.  I’m a pesto traditionalist and not into the variations that have cropped up through the years.  I like the basic centuries old Genoa recipe – basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano, Pecorino and olive oil.  But didn’t I have any pine nuts. So no pesto – this time.

I did however have canned whole tomatoes from Michael Anthony’s market and, uhm, basil.

No recipe needed - Here’s what I did…

     I got out my machete, hacked my way through the basil container forest and ended up with about half the basil leaves from my voracious plant. 

 

Basil plant post hacking - still huge

I pulled out a large saucepan and began crushing those tomatoes with my hands, which caused a huge mess all over the kitchen counter and me.  I chucked in the basil leaves – don’t ask me how many, just lots!

 

I used way more than this but I wanted to show the tomatoes

Added a little white wine, lots of olive oil, and let the sauce simmer all day.  The result was a really fresh, simple tasting sauce that was perfect since I didn’t have any pine nuts.  But I will next time and guess what?  That basil plant is right back to where it was pre- hacking. I swear the thing is on steroids!

Sunday
Mar272011

Beef Short Rib Ragu


 

 

     Saturday, March 26th 12:07PM

     I woke up this morning just wanting to make stuff, and experiment in the kitchen.  It was supposed to be a miserable day here on the Island so I thought I’d break out my slow cooker for a swan song as we head towards the summer.  Note to self:  Don’t listen to the weathermen – it’s absolutely stunning outside!

     Now, short ribs and I have a love hate relationship.  They seem like a good idea at the time, kinda like a hamster for your kid, but when the cooking is all said and done – they’ve ended up being a disappointment…in my eyes.

      So I toddled off to the Fresh Market this morning and picked up a nice Boston butt with the thought of slow cooking it with tomatoes, carrots, onions, blah blah blah…you know all the traditional beginnings that would make a hearty Ragu.

      Still clutching my butt, I waltzed past the beef counter, glanced at the short ribs on sale and smirked.  Nope, I wasn’t getting into that “seems like a good idea at the time” thing again or fall for the romantic notion that SR’s are really the “it” food of late.  Then I heard something… 

     “Give us a second chance…please, we won’t disappoint,” the short ribs begged.

They did look good sitting in the display case all meaty and marbled, but still I held my butt tight not wanting to be lured into their we’re hearty and tasty trap.

     “No!” I said a bit louder than I should have.

     “May I help you?”  Jim, the butcher guy behind the counter asked with a who is she talking to look.  The ribs kept at it… 

       “Hey, Miss smarty-pants cook.   Did you ever think maybe it might be YOU not us that can’t get it right?  Plenty of others sing our praises.”

     “What did you say?” I asked.

     “May I help you Miss?” Jim said looking around.

     “You’re a chicken.” It was the ribs again.

     “Chicken? Me?”  That was it, the ribs were chastising me, mocking me now.  It was throw down time.

     “Would you like a chicken?”  Jim asked.

     “No, no…I have my butt.”  I said proudly.

     Jim smiled, “short ribs on sale if you’re interested.”

     “Hmmm, on sale?”  I looked at my butt then back at the ribs.  “I’ll show you.”

     “Excuse me?” Jim was confused at this point, so was I.

     “I’ll take eight short-ribs please Jim.”

Jim handed me my package and I heard a muffled “you won’t be sorry.”

     “Thank you and I better not be.”  I said and smiled at Jim.

      So now I’ve got short ribs in my slow cooker smelling wonderful and getting all rich and thick.  Oh, and a Boston butt in the fridge for sometime next week.

     Saturday, March 26, 2011 – 7:30PM

OMG!  Make this tomorrow!  This sauce is rich, hearty, with a bit of a kick, tender and tasty!   The ribs were right.

Serves 4-6 – depending on how hungry you are

Ingredients

8 short ribs (about 4lbs)

4 medium carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 bulb fennel, white part only, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 oz shitake mushroom, stems removed and caps roughly chopped

1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1 1/3 cup red wine

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Light olive oil for browning

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

 

     Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Heat a little olive oil in a heavy skillet when screaming hot, working in batches so you don’t crowd the ribs, brown them on all sides until well caramelized. 

Transfer ribs to the slow cooker.  Whisk tomatoes, 1 cup of  red wine and balsamic vinegar together in a medium bowl.  Pour over ribs and set slow cooker for 3 hours on high. 

     In the same skillet cook onions, carrots and fennel over medium heat until softened about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms; cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 

Add the remaining 1/3-cup of wine and cook until syrupy and almost evaporated, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the onion mixture to the short ribs, stir to distribute, cover then let the slow cooking begin. 

     After 3 hours, remove ribs from slow cooker and cut the meat from the bones.  Trim away any gristly fat and discard.  Shred the meat and return it to the slow cooker.  Continue cooking for another 3 hours on low.  Skim any fat you can from the top - it’s easier if you cool the Ragu.   Serve over rigatoni with grated Parmesan cheese. 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  This can be made two days ahead.  Remove the fat that accumulates before re-heating.  Also – you can make this in a Dutch oven on top of the stove or by roasting it in the oven at 300°F.  Either way the key is low and slow – dare I say, you can’t cook this too long.  This recipe was adapted from Ciao Italia- Slow and Easy by Mary Ann Esposito.

 

Friday
Mar182011

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting...for the Easter Bunny!


Here’s a copy of an email I received the other day…

 

Dear Sally 

I’ve been following your blog and reading your articles for some time now.  I’ve noticed that you cover the other major holidays well as far as desserts go.  You’ve got plenty of Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes on your website, but I have to say I’m a little disappointed that Easter seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Sure I noticed an orange cheesecake with a couple of “Peeps” stuck on top, and some lemony sugar cookies but that’s about it.  Santa gets a Buche de Noel, chocolate cupcakes with his favorite peppermint marshmallow frosting on top, and snowflake shortbread…just to name a few.  For Thanksgiving, you’ve got pumpkin everything from ravioli to cheesecake - you must just love your cheesecake! 

But Easter?  Not a whole lot.  What’s up with that?  Would it be too much to ask you to make carrot cake and then post the recipe?  And perhaps even use it in your It’s All Delicious column in Pink?  I know I’m not the only one who is partial to carrot cake – don’t forget the cream cheese frosting- BTW.  I’m sure others would like a lovely, moist, flavorful carrot cake with a hint of cinnamon, slight crunch of walnuts, and a touch of sweetness from golden raisins for Easter…wouldn’t you agree?  Oh I can taste it now.

I’m sorry for being pushy; it’s not really my nature.  I’m more of the scared rabbit type, which is why it’s taken me so long to write to you.  But I think it’s time for me to point out that for all these years I’ve visited your house, brought you and your family baskets upon baskets of lovely chocolates, surprised everyone with cute little presents and not once have I been offered anything in return.  Well this year I’m hopping mad and putting my foot down.  Make the damn carrot cake or no Easter baskets for you!

Lots of love the Easter Bunny xx

 

There you go…I’m just sayin…I had no choice…Enjoy!!

 

Makes about 24 standard size cupcakes

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cups canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup golden raisins

3 cups carrots, peeled and grated (about 6-8 medium)

8oz crushed pineapple, drained a bit

Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

16oz confectioners' sugar (about 4 1/2 cups)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard muffin tins paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Combine the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and raisins in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Beat the oil, sugar and vanilla on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment – about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated and beginning to turn pale – about three minutes.  On low speed, add the carrot mixture and continue mixing until combined.  Reduce speed to “stir” and add the flour, mix until the batter is smooth.  Fill each liner with approximately a scant ½ a cup of batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the middle.  Cool on rack.  Refrigerate until ready to frost – see notes below...pleeeze!

To make the frosting:

Beat the butter and cream cheese, and vanilla on medium until smooth using an electric mixer.  Slowly add the sugar (and I mean slowly or you will have a confectioners’ sugar cloud in the kitchen) and beat until incorporated and smooth.  Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes.  Can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  Grate the carrots by hand on the smallest tear drop holes of a box grater – this way the carrots are not mushy and not too chunky.

 

Also, when I fill my cupcake liners, I use an old-fashioned ice cream scoop ¾ full – the tins fill perfectly every time and do not overflow.

One last thing, make these cupcakes a day before, stick them in the fridge and let the flavors develop

 

Thursday
Mar102011

Lowcountry Shrimp Sliders - getting ready for the season!


 

 

It’s time to gear up for shrimp season.  It begins on May 1st.  I’ve written about these little sea jewels before.  Our shrimp are sweet, firm, tender, and local!  Local is the key!  Once you have Lowcountry shrimp you’ll never want to eat a frozen farmed shrimp from places far and away again.  Dare I say, you’ll get selfish about your shellfish - say that three times fast!

  My fish guy, Dave Martin, owner of the Piggly Wiggly in Coligny - now try saying that three times fast after the selfish and shellfish thing.  He gets nothing but fresh local shrimp.  Actually, in my opinion and others, he has best fresh fish on the Island.  Local grouper, corvina, soft shell crabs, flounder, shrimp...you name it.  He carries all the little local fishies swimming in the sea and the store has a quaint beachy feel to it.  Plus, it’s always nice to support our local businesses on the Island and Dave’s Piggly Wiggly in Coligny is one of them.  Check it out! 

Makes 12 appetizer sized sliders

 

1 lb large shrimp – about 30, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon ginger puree

2 teaspoons garlic puree

6 green onions, chopped – about 3 inches of the white and light green parts only

¼ cup panko bread crumbs, heaped

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

Flour for dredging

Canola oil for shallow frying

Add ½ the shrimp, ginger, garlic, and ½ the onions to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until fine – but not pureed.  Add the remaining shrimp, onions, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, egg, and panko.  Pulse until shrimp is chopped and ingredients are blended, scrape down inside of bowl as necessary, do not over process – you want chunks of shrimp not a puree of shrimp.  The mixture will be on the wet side. 

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form the patties then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.   Heat enough oil to cover the bottom and come about ¼ inch up the sides of a heavy skillet.  Dredge each side of patties in a little flour and fry until golden on each side – about 3-4 minutes in total.  Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce or any other flavor that floats your shrimp boat.

 

 

Thursday
Mar032011

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin and Cranberry Cookies

 
 

 

I’ve always been a chocolate chip cookie girl.  A Toll House cookie with a glass of ice cold milk was pretty hard to beat as a kid.  I wasn’t the one grabbing for the oatmeal raisin cookies, or anything with raisins in for that matter.

 So when I took a friends and family cookie poll the other day I was shocked to see that oatmeal raisin cookies came out on top.  What about the chocolate?  Well with spring break upon us and the house about to be full I decided to whip up a batch of the crowd favorite cookie – oatmeal raisin.

But I ran into a snag...no big bags or boxes of just plain raisins on the shelves!  I was shocked – that’s craziness?  A run on raisins?  Was it raisin week on the Food Network?   

Anyway, my desire to please the crowd wasn’t about to take me another store for a few cups of shriveled grapes – so, I picked up a couple of bags cranberries & raisins all mixed together and I’m glad I did.  These turned out great.  Those little cranberries and golden raisins add a different kind of sweet to the cookies.

 I will always be a chocolate chip kind of girl at heart, but these are now my second favorite!

 

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup rolled oats (regular oatmeal – not steel cut)

½ cup butter (1 sticks), softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup raisins

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.   Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal in a large bowl.  Mix well. 

On medium speed, beat the butter, and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Wipe down bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Mix the flour in on low speed, add the raisins and cranberries, and then mix until evenly distributed.  Using a tablespoon measure or medium ice cream scoop drop dough on cooking sheets lined with parchment paper about 3 inches apart. Press down slightly to flatten. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on racks.  Store in an air tight container.  

 

 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe can be doubled – easily.  Also, you could throw some nuts in there as well...up to you.  Just cut back a bit on the fruit mixture – you want 1 ½ cups of any fruit/nut combo.

  

Saturday
Feb262011

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Biscuits with Walnuts and Apple Thyme Butter

 


  

Walnuts, apples, and blue cheese – it’s a great combo and these yummy little biscuits are as flakey as can be thanks to the secret ingredient!  I’m already picturing them as part of our Easter dinner. 

 I hate to admit that the biscuits I’ve made before turned out like little cement blocks and then if you did bite into one, it was like chewing talcum powder - hence no recipe until now re: biscuits.

 I think certain dishes and techniques are in your blood.  For instance, I can roast potatoes, but according to my kids, I can’t roast them like my BF Debbie, in London, can – must be a British thing.  I can make potato salad, but not like my BF Terri, can – must be a Southern thing and that’s why her recipe’s on this website. I had almost given up on the biscuit process putting it down to me not being a born and bred Southerner.  I won’t even bore you with my red velvet cake story.

With some things there seems to be that little je ne sais quoi which goes hand in hand with your geographic cooking DNA.  I hate to think about my original geographic cooking DNA pointing to bologna sandwiches and hot dogs.  But, having said all that, there are some amazing things now being done to alter DNA of all sorts...after all...look how far I’ve come. I can make biscuits now!

Ingredients

Makes 16 biscuits

For the biscuits:

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cups vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into cubes (the secret ingredient!)

1 ¼ cups blue cheese, crumbled

¾ cup walnut pieces

1 cup buttermilk, plus a little more for brushing

 

For the butter:

2 sweet apples, like Fuji or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 cup water

1 stick of butter, room temperature

 

First make the butter...

Sprinkle the apples with sugar and thyme.  Cook over medium low heat in a small skillet until the apples soften, collapse, and turn into a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes. 

Add water as necessary to the skillet so the apples don’t scorch and burn.  Smash down any stubborn pieces that refuse to sauce-ify.  Cool completely.  Blend the butter and apples together using an electric hand mixer or whisk.  Chill until ready to use. 

 

Now make the biscuits...

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl.  Work shortening into flour using a pastry blender or fingertips until you have course looking crumbs and the shortening is distributed throughout the flour mixture. 

 

Add walnuts and 1 cup of the blue cheese, again using a pastry blender or fingertips work dough until blended.  Make a well in the center and add buttermilk, stir using a spoon or spatula until a dough forms. 

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until combined.  The dough will not be completely smooth, like a pie crust but should hold together and be a little elastic.  Form into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick and use a pizza slice to cut into 16 squares (if you prefer round biscuits...have at it!). 

Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush with a little buttermilk, sprinkle with a little blue cheese and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature with apple butter. 

 

It’s All Delicious notes:  The dough can be made a few hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.

 

Monday
Feb212011

Whole Wheat Bread...Who Knew?

 

I admit it...I’m a white bread, white rice, and white pasta kinda girl.  Whole grain versions no matter how much Omega 3 or fiber haven’t really done it for me in the past.  I tried and failed.  Once in a while I’d get on a whole grain kick then would look at that whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce on it and miss the color and taste of “proper” white flour pasta.   I know full well that brown rice and whole wheat this and that are better for one’s “system” but I still like the plain ole bad boy fiber-less, sugared up carbs.

Which brings me to this part of the story...I’ve been breaking out the bread machine a lot lately.  Making lovely loaves of delicious white bread for the weekends when the house is full.  It’s dead easy and so much tastier than those loaves packed on the store shelves that have expiration dates a month out (that can’t be good for you, whole wheat, high fiber or not!).  

With my magical bread machine (it still amazes me the way it works), all I do is dump the ingredients into the pan.  Press a few buttons and presto in 3 hours homemade delicious warm fresh white bread appears and the kitchen smells wonderful...well, that is until someone, in a rush – that would be me, picked up a bag of King Arthur whole wheat flour.

“Whole wheat flour?  Really?  I can’t believe I did that.”  I said to myself at first, and then I looked at the flour, looked at the bread machine (lovingly), and thought...“Hmm, I’ll give it a go.”  

So, I found a few recipes for whole wheat bread on the King Arthur website, tweaked a bit from one, added a bit from another and deleted a bit from the last one and came up with the recipe below.  I used the same exact scientific process  I always do...dump the ingredients into the pan, press a few buttons and presto in 4 hours a homemade healthier delicious warm loaf of fresh whole wheat bread appeared.  And then I fell in love with the heartier texture and the sweet nutty flavor – it made scrumptious toast the next morning. 

Now I’m not giving up my bad boy fiber-less pasta or white rice and I’m not going to get all healthy on everyone, but I am adding whole wheat bread to my repertoire.  Next on my “to do” list is...oatmeal honey bread.  I’m on a bread roll!

Ingredients

Makes 1 ½ lb. loaf

1 ½ cups luke warm water

2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces

2 tablespoons demerara or light brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 ½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup dry milk powder

2 teaspoons instant yeast

Set the bread machine for a 1 ½ lb whole wheat loaf with light crust.  Place all the ingredients in the loaf pan in the order above.  Make sure the yeast does not come into contact with the liquid.  Press start and let the machine do its thing!

Thursday
Feb172011

Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms - A classic!

 

You’ve got to love the classics – Books, movies, cars, and of course FOOD!  And Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite classic dishes.  It’s easy, quick and uses just a few ingredients; chicken, shallots, mushrooms, stock and Marsala wine.  Now if you don’t have a bottle of Marsala hanging around waiting to be turned into a sauce, try Madeira wine.  If you don’t have a bottle of Madeira from your last trip to Portugal in the wine closet then try using Sherry.  But if you just had Dr.’s Frasier and Niles Crane over and they drank your last drop, then from what I gather you can mix white wine and brandy for a similar-ish taste since Marsala is a fortified wine anyway (that means a spirit, like brandy, has been added to the wine).  I guess what I’m trying to say; not only is this dish quick and easy but also versatile and forgiving if the bottle you have on hand isn’t Marsala. 

And that brings me to my other point about versatility...I pulled this recipe out of the archives after Mr. Crown and Ginger (that’s my I’m too old to call him a boyfriend boyfriend) had an amazing grilled trout with a Marsala sauce the other evening at Charlies Etoille Verte (here on the Island and one of our favorites).  Now I would have never put Marsala and fish in the same sentence before, I guess since I’ve always reserved it for a classic scaloppini (chicken, veal or pork) dish.  Plus, I don’t have many fish dishes on this site (trying to improve that, in fact, also trying to improve my posting frequency – I’ve been a slacker).  But like I said, it did get me thinking of the classic dishes in that “go to” category, adaptable, straightforward and deserving of a re-visit on a regular basis.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts pounded to about a ¼ inch thick

All purpose flour

5 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

3 cups thinly slice mushrooms

¾ cup Marsala wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

 

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper then dredge both sides in flour. 

Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter begins to foam, working in batches, cook chicken until golden brown on one side about 3 minutes.  Continue cooking the other side for another 2 minutes.  Add more oil if necessary.  Remove breasts and set aside. 

Drain fat from skillet and return to medium heat.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet then add shallots.  Cook until they soften, about 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until they brown.  Pour Marsala wine over mushrooms and continue cooking until wine turns slightly syrupy.  Add remaining butter and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper.  Boil until sauce is reduced by half.  Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan.  Continue cooking until sauce thickens and chicken is heated through, turning occasionally to coat in sauce.  Add parsley and serve spooning sauce over each serving.  

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jan182011

Vanilla Babycakes

This little cupcake maker is so sweet.  Granted it’s a bit of a gimmick but it’s a fun, cute little baby kitchen gizmo and brings a smile to my face when I use it.  How can it not...just look at it – sitting there all pink and baby-ish.

 The recipe booklet that’s included is really pretty good (which was surprising).  I made the vanilla cupcakes and they were delish.  So much so that this will be my “go to” vanilla cupcake recipe when I make cupcakes that are all grown up as well. 

Ingredients

Makes 16 baby cupcakes

 

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

¼ sour cream (only Daisy in this kitchen)

3 egg whites

1/3 cup whole milk

3 teaspoons vanilla

 

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.  Add vanilla to milk, set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together using a hand mixer until light and creamy.  Beat in sour cream.  Add egg whites and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl occasionally using a rubber spatula.  Add half the flour and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Add milk and beat until incorporated.  Beat in the remaining flour on low speed until batter is smooth.

Line the cupcake maker with mini cupcake papers.  Fill each cup with 1 tablespoon of batter (do not overfill – it creates a mess!). 

 

Bake in babycake cupcake maker until a tester inserted comes out clean, approximately 5-6 minutes.  Cool completely and frost (or not) with your favorite frosting.

Monday
Jan032011

Gateau de Crepes from "The Essential New York Times Cookbook"


 

They are all over the place.  Every time I turn around another one just grabs my attention.   They are almost impossible for me to ignore.  Burning holes in the back of my head, staring me down as I travel from store to store, aisle to aisle.  A good looking one will catch my eye and I’ll think about it and think about it until I can’t stand it anymore.  Then usually desire takes over and BOOM – I own another cookbook.  Well with this one, I stupidly held off working on the “I need another cookbook like a fish needs a bicycle” and “Christmas is coming” mottos.  And I got my wish – The Essential New York Times Cook Book by Amanda Hesser.  YES – it’s fabulous!  I’ve been reading it ever since Santa (okay, my son Luke) placed it under the tree.  I love her background stories with each recipe and I love the twists and updates on the classics.  I love her straight forward recipe writing approach - no nonsense - this is how you do it sort of way. 

The first recipe I tried was her Gateau de Crepe.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a recipe that works and does so perfectly.  The crepe recipe made exactly 20 crepes.  The pastry cream recipe made exactly enough for filling the 20 crepes.  The cake wobbled a bit but did not fall down (which was my fear when I thought about making this in the past) and was absolutely one of the most delicious desserts I have ever made.  So, thank you Amanda Hesser for a wonderful New Years Eve dessert and a new tradition.

For the crepe batter:

6 tablespoons butter

3 cups milk

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

7 tablespoons sugar

Pinch salt

For the vanilla pastry cream:

2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For the assembly:

Corn oil

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar or more

3 tablespoons Kirsch 
(I used Grand Marnier)

Confectioners' sugar.

1. The day before, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream. Batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Pastry cream: Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.

3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

4. Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes.

 

5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Kirsch. It won't hold peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.

6. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners' sugar. Slice like a cake.

Batter adapted from Joy of Cooking.  Pastry cream adapted from Desserts, by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. Serves 10.

It’s All Delicious Notes:  Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book by Amanda Hesser

 

Tuesday
Dec212010

Christmas Dinner Cake?

 

All in one?  One for all? 

I ran this past the Christmas elves as a Christmas eve alternative to our usual dinner after seeing it in the Daily Mail this morning.  Needless to say it received a thumbs down all around.  I was able to carry the joke for about fifteen minutes before I saw tears well in my little elves eyes and the begging began..."don't do it, please...it wouldn't feel like Christmas...please, please."  But, I just thought I'd pass this all in one Christmas dinner to anyone who missed it or wants to taunt their own elves.  And just incase you do want to try it?  I've even included the recipe...if you are brave enough to give it a go.  

 

HOW TO MAKE A CHRISTMAS DINNER CAKE

Ingredients

FOR THE TURKEY LAYERS

  • 500g turkey breast, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped

FOR THE MASH

  • 1.5kg potatoes (keep a third aside for the parsnip and mashed potato layer)

FOR THE LAYERS

  • 3 large carrots
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Parsnips
  • Sage and onion stuffing, 1 packet
  • Pot of ready-made bread sauce, 300g
  • Unsalted butter for coating the pans

Method

Heat the oven to 175c. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with butter.

Place all the turkey layer ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the mixture evenly between the pans.

Bake until cooked through and the cakes begin to pull away from the edges of the pans.

Make your mashed potato and boil and mash your parsnips. Mix the two. 

Remove turkey from oven but leave the oven on. Let turkey cool for 10 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Remove one of the layers from its case and place it bottom-side up on an overturned cake pan or in an oven-proof serving dish.
  2. Evenly spread a 1cm layer of your potato and parsnip mash on top of the turkey layer, leaving a 1cm border.
  3. Spread a generous layer of cranberry sauce.
  4. Make up the stuffing and spread a layer 1cm thick.
  5. Carefully place a layer of carrot pieces.
  6. Add a 1cm layer of bread sauce, again remembering to leave a space at the edge so that it does not spill out when the final meat layer is added.
  7. Now take the second turkey layer out of its cake mould and place it bottom-side up on top of the bread sauce.
  8. Transfer the cake pan with the partially assembled cake to a baking sheet and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and set aside. With a long knife or spatula, evenly coat the outside and top with mashed potato. Serve with warm, meaty gravy... and tuck in.

It's All Delicious notes:  this recipe was written by Vincent Graff of the Mail - online

 

Friday
Dec172010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  

If you don’t have Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri in your repertoire – get it!  It’s my go to cookie bookie.  There are over 200 recipes in it with almost every type of cookie you could imagine; piped, bar, rolled, wafers, savory  – you name it.  He doesn’t stop there – fillings, icings, glazes and if you don’t have enough to do – a decorating projects section.  But most importantly every recipe I have tried works and works well.  This book is easy to understand and his writing and techniques are very straight forward.  My book is dog-eared, stained with chocolate and very much loved from years of baking.

Makes about 48 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 cups rolled oats (regular oatmeal – not steel cut)

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.   Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal in a large bowl.  Mix well.  On medium speed, beat the butter, and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth, then beat in the vanilla.  Wipe down bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.  Mix the flour mixture in on low speed, then add the raisins.  Mix until raisins are evenly distributed.  Using a tablespoon measure or medium ice cream scoop drop batter on cooking sheets lined with parchment paper about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Cool on racks.  Store in an air tight container.  

It’s All Delicious notes:  This recipe was adapted ever so slightly from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri

Sunday
Dec122010

Apple, Onion, And Cranberry Tart with Goat Cheese


 

 

I looked around my kitchen and in the fridge and saw the above ingredients hanging out in my cupcake tree.  I had a pre-made pastry crust that was screaming to be used and it was a dreary baking kind of day.

Years and years ago I made a red onion and apple tart as an appetizer and loved the combination (that tart had a bit or rosemary in it as well).  Everyone loves the apple-cranberry combo in the stuffing I make for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I didn’t think I could go too wrong here.  Now as I’m typing, I could have thrown in a few chopped chestnuts for a nice crunch – next time.  Oh, and grated Gruyere cheese would work really nicely – next time. 

But as I said, given the dreary day, the ingredients that were just hanging out in the cupcake tree (who knew what a versatile piece of kitchen equipment it truly is).  This is a happy combo of flavors, takes no time to whip up and would also make nice little tartlets for the upcoming hols!

Makes 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients

½ large sweet onion, diced

2 apples, peeled and diced on the small side

¼ cup chopped dried cranberries

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon calvados (optional)

4oz goat cheese, crumbled

1 10 inch pre-made pie crust

Salt and pepper

Canola oil for cooking

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Spray a 9-inch tart pan with cooking oil spray (if tart pan is not non-stick).  Line with parchment paper and feel with baking beads.  Bake for 15minutes, remove beads, and bake another 5 minutes to dry out bottom of tart.  Let cool. 

Cook onions until soft in a little canola oil over medium heat.  Add apples, thyme, cranberries, and calvados Season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until apples are tender and mixture is syrupy/on the dry side. 

Spoon mixture into tart shell, pressing down with the back of the spoon.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes until heated through.  Serve warm or room temperature.

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