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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.

Monday
Dec062010

Devil's Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Filling and Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting

  

These cupcakes are a “must do” for the holidays.  Chocolate, peppermint, and marshmallow...I mean come on!  I took inspiration for these little babies from the December 2008 Bon Appetit magazine cover.  But, this time, rather than wrestling with a cake that, when done, looked like something from Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” – which was not a bad thing, I just worried that it might end up in Whoville overnight – so, this time I decided to make cupcakes.  And it worked great since I didn’t have to worry about the cake toppling over in the fridge (even with cake-dowels stuck in it) and the individual cakes are so much easier to handle.  When I made this, I used James Peterson’s Devil’s Food Cake recipe from his book “Cooking” – it’s just so easy and delicious –  I kept with the peppermint marshmallow frosting and white chocolate cream recipe from BA.  These little cupcakes are now a new holiday tradition.  If you don’t like peppermint you can substitute orange – that would be yummy as well!

 

Devil’s Food Cake – from “Cooking” –

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

Ingredients - Cupcakes

1 cup flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, cut into eight pieces

8oz bittersweet chocolate pieces

1 cup sour cream (only Daisy here)

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs beaten

Ingredients – White Chocolate Cream Center

6 oz white chocolate pieces like Lindt or Ghirardelli

1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream

¾ teaspoon peppermint extract

Ingredients – Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/8 cups sugar

¼ cup water

2 large egg whites

½ tablespoon light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

 

Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard sized muffing tin with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.  Heat butter, sour cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a sauce pan of simmering water.  Stir with a rubber spatula until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, attachment beat sugar and eggs until well blended. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture then the four.  Scrap down the sides and bottom of bowl making sure everything is mixed evenly together – do not over mix.  Fill each liner with a scant ½ cup of batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tester inserted comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed.  Cool completely. Using an apple corer or small paring knife, cut a small plug from the top of each cupcake. Can be made one day ahead.  Store at room temperature in a cake domes or covered in foil.

White Chocolate Cream

Heat 1 ½ cups cream in a small sauce pan until simmering.  Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour hot cream over pieces.  Let stand 1 minute then whisk until smooth.  Whisk in extract.  Cover and chill until mixture thickens – about 4 hours.  Can be made one day ahead.  When ready to assemble cupcakes. Beat ½ cup of heavy cream in to chocolate mixture until smooth and peaks form.  Pipe filling into cupcake centers, chill while making the frosting.

Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting

Combine sugar, water, egg whites, and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk to combine well.  Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk, pretty much constantly, by hand until mixture resembles marshmallow and ribbons form when whisk is lifted – this could take as long as 20 minutes!  Whisk in peppermint extract.  Remove bowl from sauce pan and attach to stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high speed until barely warm to touch and very thick – about 10 minutes.  Pipe frosting on the filled cupcakes and chill.  Let cupcakes come to room temperature before serving.

  Note:  you must use the frosting immediately, so do not make until you are ready to ice the cupcakes

 

 

Tuesday
Nov162010

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a Caramel Center and Cream Cheese Frosting


This recipe started in my head a few days ago.  I had been looking at old, old, Gourmet and Bon Appetite magazines and started combining different recipe ideas.  I had always wanted for some strange reason to boil a can of sweetened condensed milk and turn it into caramel but never had the guts to do it.  Visions of an exploding can and caramel all over the stove, floor and walls put me off.  But in one recipe I found in the Gourmet 2002 Christmas issue, there was an oven method that I jumped all over and I’m glad I did (it’s actually posted on the Eagle Brand website).  It took a while (a good 2 ½ hours to be exact) to get the right color and consistency but well worth it.  The taste is just soooo ridiculous delish especially after being stuffed inside a moist spicy flavorful cupcake (had to take a breather after that sentence) then topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting. The only other thing I could say as a possible improvement would be...sit down and let you’re your sweet tooth envision this...Double chocolate cupcakes with a caramel center and chocolate ganache frosting...check back for that recipe!  

 

Ingredients

Makes 15-18 cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

 

For the caramel center:

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

 

Frosting:

16-ounces powdered sugar

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Beat the oil, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin 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.  Reduce speed to “stir” and add the flour, mix until the batter is smooth (the batter will be thick).  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.  Can be made a day ahead, stored in an air tight container.

 

To make the caramel: 

Preheat oven to 425°F

Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a bain- marie (large shallow pan filled with hot water). Bake for 2-2 ½ hours or until thick and caramel-colored, whisking occasionally.  Cool completely before piping into cupcakes.


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.  Can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge.  Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread.

 

To assemble cupcakes:

Using an apple corer or small paring knife, cut a small plug from the top of each cupcake, reserve the plug, and scoop out a hole in the center of each cupcake to hold the filling.

Transfer cooled caramel mixture to a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag, and seal; cut off one corner of the bag to make a 1/8-inch opening.  Place the tip in the cupcake and pipe in the filling to fill the hole.

Replace the plug and frost with cream cheese icing.  Dot top with additional caramel.

 

 

Monday
Nov012010

Brown Sugar, Pineapple, and Horseradish Glaze for Baked Ham...and Just About Anything Else

 

Some glazes, especially store bought, are too too sweet with no substance and a lot of “stuff” in them to keep their shelf life going forever.  The horseradish, cloves, and molasses give this a little added oomph.  What was nice about this as well is that the glaze didn’t slide off the ham; it stayed right where it should on the ham not in the pan.  Cooking the glaze down, letting it cool and using crushed (not tidbits and not chunks) pineapple gives this just the right consistency.  This would be delish on a pork roast, pork tenderloin or chicken legs, and wings.

 

Ingredients

Makes 2 cups

1 cup light brown sugar

8oz crushed pineapple

¼ Dijon mustard

2 ½ tablespoons horseradish

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon ground cloves

 

Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan.  Simmer for 20 minutes until glaze is thickened, syrupy, and dark golden brown in color.  Let cool.  Can be made two days ahead.  Makes enough glaze to coat a 6-8lb ham. This can easily be doubled for a larger ham.

It’s All Delicious Notes:  I baked the ham tented in foil for 13 minutes per pound at 350°F.  During the last 40 minutes, I turned the oven temperature up to 425°F, uncovered the ham, and basted it twice in 15 minute intervals.  

Tuesday
Oct262010

Goat Cheese Spread with Thyme and Lemon

 

I wish I could take credit for this, but can’t.  So simple, so delicious and so like Chef Bob Waggoner to whip it up one day.  Yummy! 

 

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

4oz goat cheese, room temperature

1 small shallot, finely minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Black pepper to taste

 

Soften and “cream’ the goat cheese in a medium bowl using a fork.  Add the shallot, thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice and season with black pepper.  Continue mixing until all the ingredients are combined.  Serve with crackers or toasted baguette pieces.  

Monday
Oct112010

The Reuben Sandwich - An American Classic

 

 

 

There are two stories to this sandwiches origin.  One has that it was made for a group of  old poker playing cronies back in 1920 at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha Nebraska.  The other story is that Arnold Reuben a famous NY deli owner invented the Reuben put it on the menu in 1914 as a “special.”  Either way, it’s one of my favorite sandwiches.  I love the tart and hearty rye bread, the salty corned beef, the sour sauerkraut mixed with the sweet Thousand Island dressing and well what’s a sandwich without melted cheese?  It’s perfect no matter where it came from.  After making these the other day for “Game Day” I have all sorts of combos in my head; turkey pastrami and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut was the first to come to mind.

 The key to getting the bread toasted not burned and the cheese to get lava-y is to cover it then “grill” it low and slow.  The bread toasts, the cheese lavas, and the beef and sauerkraut heat up.  During the last few minutes, I put a grill press on top just to compact the sandwich slightly.

 

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

4 slices rye bread

10 slices corned beef

6 slices Jarlsberg cheese

¼ cup sauerkraut, drained

3 Tablespoons Thousand Island dressing, see below

2 Tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon mustard

Butter for grilling or frying

 

Heat a large skillet over medium low heat.  For each sandwich – spread one side of  the bread with mustard.  Top with 5 slices of corned beef.  Spread ½ the sauerkraut mixture on top of beef.  Add 3 slices of the cheese and top with remaining slice of bread, press down slightly.

 

Butter one side of the sandwich and place buttered side down in skillet.  Butter remaining side of bread.  Cover sandwiches with a lid or aluminum foil and “grill” for 7 minutes on each side or until dark golden color.  Use a “press” for the last few minutes on one side just to compact the sandwich slightly.  Let rest 3 minutes before cutting. 

 

Thousand Island Dressing

 

Ingredients

Makes about 2 cups

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream (only Daisy brand here)

¼ cup ketchup

1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated horseradish

½ cup sweet pickle relish, drained

1 ½ teaspoons capers, drained and minced

10 small pimiento stuffed Manzanilla olives, minced

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

 

Whisk the above ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe can easily be doubled. 

 

 

Saturday
Oct092010

Thousand Island Dressing

 

This is not unlike Louis dressing just a bit lighter, sweeter, and saltier.  Well, that’s my take on it anyway.  We’re grilling up Reuben sandwiches later (game day baby!) and there was absolutely no way I was ever going to buy store bought dressing...blich.  So I concocted this and have to say, am damn pleased with myself!  Go Gamecocks!

 

Ingredients

Makes about 2 cups

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream (only Daisy brand here)

¼ cup ketchup

1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated horseradish

½ cup sweet pickle relish, drained

1 ½ teaspoons capers, drained and minced

10 small pimiento stuffed Manzanilla olives, minced

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

 

Whisk the above ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe can easily be doubled. 

 

 

Monday
Sep272010

Paella with Chicken, Shrimp and Clams

 

This was one of the best and most flavorful Paella’s I have ever made and dare I say – had!  Instead of kind of just throwing it all in, I followed a lead from two of my favorite guys in the cooking realm – Gordon Ramsey and Tyler Florence – I know I know, how could two total opposites have a common thread that I could find attractive in both and then mold and manipulate into the perfect man...I mean Paella.  I took Gordon’s robustness flavor, teamed it with Tyler’s ease and confidence wielding style in the kitchen and voila!  A pretty much perfect man...I mean Paella.  Please look at the notes below, this is not hard by any means, but depending on your tastes and pan size this could be a little on the fiddly side...like most men.  

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

8 boneless chicken thighs, seasoned with dry rub below

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced on the diagonal (about 8oz each)

1 Spanish onion, medium chop

8 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced

½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves (or a good handful) chopped

½ bunch of cilantro (or a good handful) chopped

A good splash of sherry or dry white wine, about ¼ cup (not really optional)

1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed and smashed

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock plus a little more if needed

Saffron threads, a large sized pinch dissolved in a little chicken stock

1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined – tails left on

1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Dry rub for chicken:  Oregano, paprika & garlic powder

 

Sprinkle oregano, paprika & garlic powder generously over chicken, coating both sides and rubbing into skin and meat.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

 

Heat oil in the paella pan over medium heat. Sauté the chorizo until browned, remove and set aside. Add chicken pieces and brown until golden on both sides and almost cooked through, remove, and set a side with chorizo.

Add onions, garlic, parsley, and cilantro to pan, cook for 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat. Then, add rice and splash of sherry.  Stir to coat the rice and cook until it begins to crackle.  Add tomatoes and stir to combine all the ingredients, cook for a few minutes more until the liquid thickens slightly. 

Pour in stock; stir so the rice absorbs the liquid evenly.  Add saffron and stir to break up threads.  Add chicken, chorizo along with all accumulated juices back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the clams tucking them into the rice and more stock if necessary.  At this point, you may have to remove the chicken pieces, cover, and keep warm depending on the size of your pan.  When the clams begin to open, add the shrimp.  Continue to simmer, adding more stock if needed.  The shrimp should take about 8 minutes to cook.  Carefully stir paella to distribute liquid.  When the shrimp are pink and cooked and the clams opened, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas and lemon wedges.


It’s All Delicious Notes:  A few suggestions – a 15” Paella pan was not large enough for all this – men and their measurements!  So, I removed the chicken thighs and kept them warm while the shellfish were cooking.  I added ever so little additions of stock to keep the Paella nice and moist.  I also used a mixture of hot and mild chorizo sausage, cutting them in two different ways, so those who like their chorizo hot, knew exactly which sausage would suit their tastes.  Obviously, there’s nothing saying that you couldn’t make two different Paella’s – one all seafood the other all meat – after all it’s nice to have choices in and out of the kitchen!


Wednesday
Sep152010

Pasta E Fagioli With Spicy Sausage and Swiss Chard


The traditional version of this is just as it translates – Pasta and Beans.  I did my usual procedure of covering the kitchen table with all my Italian cookbooks, opened to the Pasta e Fagioli recipes or anything remotely close.  I took the bits and flavors of each recipe I liked best. So, thank you’s go to:  Lidia and your Italian-American Kittchen , Andrew Carmellini and your Urban Italian cookbook, and A-16 and Nate Appleman for all of your inspiration.  This is a true rustic Italian meal in a bowl.  The aroma alone is enough to make you think you can speak Italian.  The garlic, pancetta, and onions, all getting happy together in the saucepan...heaven!

 The one thing I did do was to cook the pasta separately, and only added it on a per portion basis.  This way, the pasta didn’t soak up all the liquid and turn into a mushy mess.  When I re-heated a huge bowl for myself, again, I added the pasta last, just to warm it through then sprinkled (okay, more like piled) some Parmesan cheese on top, sliced two huge pieces of ciabatta bread and tucked in.  With the weather getting colder (sort of) and football season in full-swing...this is a perfect dish for hungry fans.  It also gets better a few days on.

 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

2-3 bay leaves

4-5 sprigs fresh oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

4oz diced pancetta

2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled

1 medium onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 ribs of celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

½ - 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup white wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 19oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2-3 leaves – depending on size Swiss chard, finely chopped

8oz cooked orecchiette, ditalini or elbow macaroni

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

 

 

Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the thyme, bay and oregano in cheesecloth then tie with kitchen twine.  Set aside. 

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add pancetta and sausage, cook until both begin to brown.  Break up any large pieces of sausage with the back of a spoon.  Add garlic, carrots, onions, and celery.  Saute until the onions begin to soften.  Pour in white wine and add bouquet garni.  Simmer until the wine is reduced by half.  Add beans and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, add Swiss chard in the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Serve in large bowl, sprinkled/piled with cheese and crusty ciabatta on the side. 

 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  There were so many variations on this dish.  Some with sausage, some without, some called for pureeing half the liquid and beans, others added tomato paste to the soup.  I have to thank my cousin Marcie for the Pasta Fagoli idea.  I hope this lives up to your expectations Marcie and you and Les enjoy this as much as I did.

 

Tuesday
Sep072010

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


It’s a new twist for those ripened  bananas that are turning more spotted as I type.  I never had a Hummingbird cake until my friend Cindy and I took a short road trip to Beaufort and had lunch at the Beaufort Inn.  Southern Graces (a local catering company) serves lunch daily and brunch on Sunday at the Historic Inn - more on that at a later date.  Anyway, so impressed, were we, with the sweet, slight crunch and moist texture of our pieces of Hummingbird Cake that I set out to find my own recipe.  And I did, there are recipes flying all over the internet and are pretty much bog standard (except for Martha’s, obviously she changes hers up – because she’s Martha – freakin- Stewart!  That’s why!).  Hummingbird cake legend has it that the very first recipe was printed in Southern Living in 1978, submitted by Mrs. LH Wiggins of Greensboro, NC.  The exact explanation of the name remains elusive (like the little hummingbird itself) but it’s thought to have come from the sweetness derived from using the combination of crushed pineapple and bananas.  Or possibly that it makes you hum when you devour it.  Either way, I’m just happy I experienced this delightful little treat!  I decided to make cupcakes (for our Labor Day BBQ), and like a hummingbird, one minute the cupcakes were there and the next they were not.  This was truly one of the easiest and tastiest batch of cupcakes I have ever made.

 

Ingredients

Makes about 18 cupcakes

 

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans – about 4 oz

3 mashed bananas

8oz crushed pineapple

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

16oz confectioners’ sugar (about 4 ½ cups)

1 ½  teaspoons vanilla extract

 

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

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Combine the bananas, pineapple, and pecans 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 banana mixture and continue beating 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.

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:  This recipe was adapted from Paula Deen, Art Smith and Mrs. LH Wiggins of Greensboro, NC.  Also, when I fill my cupcake liners, I use an old-fashioned ice cream scoop – the tins fill perfectly every time.

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

Pino Gelato - Oh Lawd or What I Love On Hilton Head

  

I’ve resisted this place for years and am sorry I did, just look at this gelato.  It’s dreamy, creamy, delicious, and delightful.  You walk into the store, and the sweet smell of takes over you.  You become dizzy as you walk up to the display case and see the most wonderful selection of flavors looking like frozen clouds.  Then the decisions have to come; how much and how many flavors should you decide to put in your cone or in my case, bring home.  On my first visit, I went for traditional vanilla and chocolate (mixed quart).  It was gone in two days.  On the second, a combo of dulce de leche and vanilla in one quart, a pint of chocolate and a pint of raspberry.  I’m still slowly working on these, my guilty pleasure at the end of the evening.  And here’s the good news compared to regular ice cream?  In my opinion, gelato could be classified as a health food with half the fat, almost half the calories, and zero (that’s right...zero) cholesterol.  What’s not to love?  Now I’ve had grocery store gelato, and again, there is simply no comparison.  You get what you pay for and Pino Gelato is far superior to any pre-packaged gelato I’ve had.  

 

They also make these cute little pizza cones that were featured on the Food Network show, “Unwrapped.”  It is just that, pizza in cone shaped flaky dough.  But for me, being a traditionalist I’ll stick to the gelato.  And another interesting little fact which I love (in addition to my personal feelings of the health benefits eating gelato versus ice cream) is that the Pino Gelato franchise is owned by a woman, Ramona Fantini.

 

Pino Gelato

1000 William Hilton Parkway

The Village @ Wexford

Hilton Head Island, Sc 29928

Hours:  Monday – Saturday 12pm-9pm

 

 

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