Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Wedding Anniversary ..... To be so lucky celebrating Forty-eight years together!

Forty-eight Years Together
November 28 marked our forty-eighth wedding anniversary. We chose to celebrate the ocassion at Newport Beach at the Marriott Resort Hotel. Forty-eight years sounds like a long time but to reflect upon forty-eight years makes one think, how quickly the years have passed. My grandmother always said, "the older you get, the faster time flies". I also remember reading the statement that it is not the number of years but what one accomplishes in that span of time.
Don and I would agree that our children are our proudest accomplishment. It has been a great blessing to see their families grow as they develop knowing this is our legacy. Last summer our children gave us a Pacific Sunset hot air balloon ride in August when all four of the children were together to celebrate our anniversary. We usually have one time of the year that all four of the children, spouses and grandchildren are together. It has been a great celebration and a great forty-eight years.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Turkey Lentil Soup ..... Thanksgiving fades as we use the leftovers to make a delicious soup.

Turkey Lentil Soup
The turkey leftovers make the most delicious stock for soup and what a healthy way to eat after the large meal of Thanksgiving. I used a new recipe this year rather than the traditional Turkey Vegetable Soup or Turkey Noodle Soup I would make.
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
5 1/2 cups Turkey stock
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
Directions: Place the carcase of the turkey into a pot of water with an onion and rib of celery, salt and pepper. Simmer until the flavor has been extracted and the bits of remaining meat are easily pulled from the bones. Remove onion and celery from stock. Return meat to pot for soup. In a fry pan, place the olive oil and onion to saute, add the celery and continue to saute until celery is less crunchy. Add to stock the garlic, cumin and salt, add tomatoes, carrots, and lentils to simmer about 20 minutes. When lentils are cooked, serve the soup in bowls garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley .

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crab Cakes ..... A tasty diversion following a day of the traditional Thanksgiving menu.

Holidays are great times for making memories and traditions. While we gathered for the holiday weekend and time to be together, we enjoyed the wine paring with crab cakes for appetizers. My recipe is offered here with the aioli sauce which is a nice compliment to the crab.
Crab Cakes
1 pound crab meat
1 egg
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon Old Bay seafood seasoning
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Place crab in strainer to drain. Mix all ingredients together and blend until smooth. Add crab meat and toss only to coat. Form into patties. I prefer to skillet fry until evenly browned but they can be baked at 375 for 12-15 minutes until an internal temperature of 165 F. Serve with Aioli and a lemon wedge.
Aioli: For each 1/2 cup mayonnaise I crush one clove garlic and 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Thanksgiving Meal Menu ..... I am thankful for many things but mostly for my family.

My Thanksgiving Menu
I have posted many of the recipes that I will be serving my family on this Thanksgiving Day. I will post my complete menu with the date I posted the recipe. I will take a brief vacation from the blog as I visit with the family and Don and I travel the following week.
May 14, 2007 Warm Camembert with Warm Mushroom Fricassee (pictured to the right)
May 17, 2007 Toasted Hazelnut Salad with Dried Cranberry and Hazelnut
Traditional Turkey with Dressing and Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Assorted Breads
November 1, 2007 Roasted Squash and Fennel Bake
November 16, 2007 Spinach Pecan Bake
November 19, 2007 Pumpkin Pie with Toffee-Walnut Topping
November 17, 2007 White Chocolate Cranberry Tart with Toasted Pistachios

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Zabaglione ..... A tasty dessert to serve with fresh fruit, cake, or amaretto biscuts.

The first time I had this dessert, it was served in Annapolis MD at a restaurant on the Harbor. Since that time, I have enjoyed it many times. I offer this recipe for you to enjoy.
5 egg yolks
7 Tablespoons superfine sugar
2/3 cup Marsala wine
Fresh fruit, amaretto cookies, angel food cake
Place eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the caster or superfine sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is thick and very pale and has doubled in volume. Place the bowl containing the egg yolk and sugar mixture, over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add the Marsala or Sherry wine to the egg yolk and sugar mixture and continuously whisking until the foam mixture becomes warm. The process may take as long as 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture which should be frothy and light into four wine glasses. Serve warm with fresh fruit, amaretto biscuits, or cake.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pumpkin Pie With Toffee-Walnut Topping ..... A twist on the standard spiced pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Pie With Toffee-Walnut Topping
To satisfy the taste buds accustomed to the average pumpkin pie flavored with spices, try this recipe for a new flavor. The addition of toasted walnuts and toffee bits make this pie very memorable.
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/3 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor or Heath bar )
1 single crust pastry
Whisk first twelve ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into crust. Bake until filling is set about 55 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle nuts and toffee around edge of hot pie, forming border. Cool pie completely. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Squash Pull-apart Dinner Rolls ..... This is a great dinner roll recipe to compliment that Holiday meal

Squash Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls
Nothing fills the house with an aroma more pleasing than a yeast bread baking. This dinner roll is soft, slightly sweet, and such a beautiful golden color.
1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 egg slightly beaten
3/4 cup pureed squash or pumpkin
5 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons poppy or sesame seeds
In a large bowl combine milk with yeast, sugar, and salt. Let stand five minutes, then add egg and beat well to combine.
Add squash and shortening; mash with a fork until shortening is in small pieces. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Gradually mix in more flour by the cupful until dough collects around spoon and pulls away from sides of bowl.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes. Put dough in a greased bowl; cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, one to one and one-half hours.
Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about seven minutes. Cut dough into four balls; cut each ball into 6 pieces.
Roll each piece into a round and arrange rounds on baking sheet so they barely touch. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds; cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven too 400 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then pull apart to serve. Yields 24 dinner rolls.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart With Toasted Pistachios

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Tart

I served this recipe two years ago at our Thanksgiving dinner. It has been back by popular demand each year since and will be again served this year. My only suggestion is to use a 10" tart pan with the removable bottom.

Tart Pastry:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
Finely grated rind of one orange *optional
Sift flour and sugar together into the bowl of mixer or food processor. Cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Whisk together egg yolk, cream and orange rind (if using) and combine with the flour mixture, mixing until the dough comes together. I highly suggest the orange zest.  It is such a nice addition.  Flatten dough into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured board and place in a 10" tart pan with removable bottom. Cover with parchment paper or foil and weight down with dried beans or pastry weights. (This prevents shrinkage).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pie weights and bake 10 minutes more or until golden. The shell is fully baked and ready to be used for the tart.
White Chocolate Cranberry Tart With Toasted Pistachios
4 ounces shelled unsalted pistachios
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup whipping cream
12 oz white chocolate, finely chopped or the discs
1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 350. Place nuts on a baking sheet and toast pistachios for 10 minutes in oven or until golden.
Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. In a bowl, put ice water to cool cranberries after blanching. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towel to dry cranberries after blanching.
Add the cranberries to boiling water and stir until they soften slightly but do not burst. Fresh cranberries take slightly longer than frozen. Immediately drain cranberries and plunge into ice water to cool. Drain and spread cranberries on lined baking sheet. Roll around to dry and remove any bad cranberries.
Bring cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Stir in white chocolate and remove from heat. Allow to sit for one minute, then stir together. Add butter and and stir together until fully incorporated. Stir mixture occasionally until completely combined. Do not over stir or there will be too much air incorporated and the final product will have allot of big bubbles.
Randomly scatter dry pistachios and cranberries into baked tart shell. With a rubber scraper or spoon, pour white chocolate cream over filled tart to completely cover the fruit and nuts. You may have a little extra filling. Chill for 4 hours or overnight (but remove from the refrigerator approximately one hour before serving to soften slightly and enhance the flavors. Cut with a hot dry knife. Serves 10 and 15 would be better! It is rich but oh so good.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Spinach Pecan Bake ..... Flash Back Friday ... A recipe which I prepared often (by their request) for our children while they were growing up at home.

Spinach Pecan Bake
I have been assembling my recipes planning for our Thanksgiving dinner. One recipe that came to mind was the Spinach Pecan Bake which our children ate with hearty appetites. The vegetable offerings at our table will be the Winter Squash and Fennel Roast and this recipe I offer today.
3 10-oz. pkgs. chopped spinach
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Butter a 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish. Cook spinach and drain well. Melt butter and saute onion til tender. Combine spinach, butter, sauteed onion, 1 cup half and half, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, chopped pecans, salt, nutmeg and pepper.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 1/4 cup bread crumbs; lightly toast the breadcrumbs, sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30 minutes in a 350 oven or until browned.
TIP: Diced bacon which has been fried crisp and blotted with paper towels may also be added to spinach.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Butternut Squash And Apple Puree ..... I prepare many different squash but the butternut is my favorite.

Butternut Squash and Apple Puree
I haven't found a recipe using butternut squash that I can't say I didn't like. I do not add sugar to the squash as I think that spoils the wonderful flavor. If you are one that prefers squash a little sweeter, try adding the apples.
6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large butternut squash, about 2 1/2 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 Gala or other sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch cubes
In a large skillet with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat; add onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add squash, apples, and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer until squash is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. (If the skillet has become dry add a little water; if the skillet has not become dry by the time the squash is cooked, drain the excess liquid.)
Transfer the squash mixture to a food processor. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper; serve. Serves 8

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sticky Toffee Pudding ..... A cake with a sauce that is fit for the holiday table.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
I was served this dessert for the first time ten years ago by our daughter's neighbor who was from Australia. I prefer to make it when I have company to help finish the pudding. It is absolutely delicious but not something you would make frequently for your family.
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
8 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Toffee Sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare an 8" round cake pan with unsalted butter and flour, set aside.
In a small bowl , combine dates and 1/2 cup boiling water; set aside to soften, at least 10 minutes. In a medium bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add date mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla; mix just until moistened.
Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Toffee Sauce.
Remove cake from oven; cool in pan 5 minutes. To assure it will come out easily later, carefully invert hot cake and then return it, right side up, to pan. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over cake. Pour about 1 cup of warm sauce over cake and let absorb for at least 20 minutes. (Cake can be soaked up to 10 hours ahead; leave in pan and store at room temperature.)
Turn cake out of pan onto serving platter; serve warm with remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce.
In a medium sauce pan, combine;
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Simmer mixture over medium heat until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 8 to 12 minutes. Can be reheated befor serving. Serves 10

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fennel-Rubbed Pork Rib Roast ..... The drippings make a surprisingly savory gravy

Fennel-Rubbed Pork Rib Roast
Pork, "the other white meat", is such a versatile meat and easy on the budget. Leftovers are so tasty.
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves minced
1 (5 pound) center-cut 8 blade pork rib roast
Cooking spray
3 cups fat-free, less sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup apple juice
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fennel seeds in a mortar and with pestal grind until coarse. Combine fennel, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, salt, and minced garlic in a small bowl; rub evenly over roast. Spray roast lightly with cooking spray. Place roast on the rack of a shallow baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour 2 cups broth into pan; place rack in pan. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350(do not remove roast from oven); bake an additional 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155. Remove roast from pan; let stand 10 minutes before carving. Slice vertically between each rib bone.
Place a zip top plastic bag inside a 2 cup measuring cup. Pour drippings into bag; let stand for 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off a bottom corner of the bag. Drain drippings into a pan, stopping before the fat layer reaches the opening; discard the fat. Add apple juice to the pan. Combine flour with remaining 1 cup broth, stirring constantly with a whisk, add to pan. Boil 1 minute or until thickened stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Serve with pork. Serves 8

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dandelion Greens ..... Last week at my Green Grocer I spotted a bunch of Dandelion Greens and tonight I prepared them.

Dandelion Greens
The recipe I offer is an old recipe handed down through my husband's family. We both enjoy this dish which originally was prepared by my husband's grandmother. I used to dig the wild greens in the Spring until the green started to form buds. Once a bud appears, the greens become bitter and the season of wild greens is over!
Fresh dandelion greens, washed and cleaned
Bacon, diced and fried crisp
Potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes and cooked.
Diced onion, sauteed
Eggs, hard boiled
Salt and Pepper
In a large bowl, add the greens which have been cleaned and chopped. Add the boiled cubed potatoes, diced hard boiled eggs and bacon. Toss with a dressing.
Dressing: In the skillet which you have cooked the bacon, drain the bacon grease and add cooking oil and vinegar. I would suggest a ration of 1/4 cup oil to 2 tablespoons vinegar. Stir in a beaten egg and a teaspoon sugar. Stir quickly until the dressing is thickened and the egg is cooked.
No amounts have been given as this is one of the dishes you learn how to gauge by the number of persons you are serving and the usual amount they consume

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Steak Sicilian ..... This is a melt in your mouth dish.

Steak Sicilian
My good friend Gabriella invited me to dinner last summer when I was in Ohio. Gabriella is the typical Italian cook who can take a few fresh ingredients and turn them into the most memorable dish with flavor unimaginable. Today I spoke with Gabriella and she gave me her "secrets". Some of the ingredients can be adjusted or omitted according to your taste.

Olive oil
Steak sliced very thin, I prefer round steak
Tomatoes, sliced very thin or chopped
Kalmata olives, oil dried
Garlic, sliced paper thin
Fresh basil, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Place olive oil and steak in a baking dish or skillet with an ovenproof handle and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes either chopped or sliced very thin and Kalmata olives which have been cut into quarters. Add garlic according to your preferences and chopped fresh basil. Bake covered at 300 for about 1 hour. Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese just before serving while hot.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tuscan Onion Soup ..... A quick easy to make soup with such great flavor!

Tuscan Onion Soup
1 3/4 oz. pancetta or bacon
extra virgin olive oil
4 large onions, sliced into thin rings
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 3/4 cup hot chicken stock
4 slices ciabatta or Italian bread
3 Tablespoons butter
2 3/4 oz. Gruyere or cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper
Dry fry the pancetta or bacon in a skillet until browned, 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the browned meat and drain the skillet.
Add oil to the skillet and cook the onions and garlic over a high heat for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes until lightly carmelizes.
Add the stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave the mixture to simmer covered, for about 10 minutes.
Toast the slices of ciabatta on both sides, under a preheated grill, for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Spread the ciabatta with butter and top with Gruyere or Cheddar cheese. Cut the bread into bread into bite-size pieces.
Add the reserved pancetta or bacon to the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into 4 soup bowls and top with toasted bread.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Roasted Garlic-Green Beans ..... Green Beans and Raosted Garlic Can Be aA Great Side Dish But, There Is Nothing Great Waiting An Hour To Toast Garlic

Roasted-Garlic Green Beans
Microwave temperatures vary - be sure to check the garlic after 45 seconds to see if it has softened. Both red and white wine vinegar work well here.
12 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Microwave garlic and oil and sugar, uncovered, in a small microwave-safe bowl until garlic is softened and fragrant, abut 1 minute. Carefully transfer 1 tablespoon oil from garlic mixture to large non-stick skillet. Reserve remaining garlic mixture.
Heat skillet over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Add green beans and water to cook, covered, until light bright green, about 3 minutes. Add reserved garlic mixture to pan; do not stir. Continue to cook, covered, until beans are almost tender, about 3 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are browned in spots and garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Roasted Squash And Fennel Bake ..... November is the month that thoughts turn to a Thanksgiving menu.

Roasted Squash And Fennel Bake
I always assemble the recipes early in the month for my Thanksgiving dinner. With the cooler weather, appetites are set for a hearty meal. This is a dish that I will serve.
1 butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded, and chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and chopped,
plus 2 Tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the vegetables and seasonings and toss until well coated. Place in a rectangular baking sheet and roast until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 1 hour.