Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas Wish


Wishing You Joy In Your World
And Peace In Your Heart
During The Holidays And Always.
Donna and Don

Friday, December 24, 2010

The History Of Roudolph

The True Story of Rudolph
A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life.
Life always had to be different for Bob.Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife, Evelyn, and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the sto ry all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print,_ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer_ and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller.! Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas." The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing. MERRY CHRISTMAS 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Bread


Christmas Bread
A Midwest Christmas Tradition
The four layers of the braided dough stand for the four seasons. Nuts and raisins stand for the type of year-mostly nuts represent a good year for farmers and mostly raisins represent a fair year. The youngest boy takes the crust of last year's bread to feed the birds representing God's creatures. A crust from the new bread is saved till next year representing there will always be bread in this home.
***
Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 1/3 to 5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped black walnuts or walnuts
3/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
*
Powdered Sugar Icing
Mix 1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Stir in more milk 1 teaspoon at a time for a drizzling quality
***
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix warm water and yeast; let stand 5 minutes to soften yeast.
***
In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar and salt just until warm (120 to 130 degrees). Add to yeast mixture; stir in egg. Using wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour, the nuts and raisins. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with the spoon.
***
Turn the dough out on a floured surface. Knead in enough of remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic(6 to 8 minutes total) Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let raise in a warm place until doubled in size (1 to 1 1/4 hours).
***
Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile grease a large baking sheet. Roll dough into a 12 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut dough crosswise into 12 one-inch wide strips. On the prepared baking sheet, twist and weave 5 of the strips together pinching the ends and tucking them under the strips. Twist and weave four more of the strips together and place on top of the first layer. Braid the remaining 3 strips and make two more layers. Twist 2 together to place on the second layer. Twist the last strip and place it on top of the third layer. Push in four wooden or metal skewers from top to secure layers.
***
Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 45 minutes) Bake in 325 oven 40 to 45 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove skewers after bread set. Cool bread on wire rack. Drizzle with icing.
This is a recipe taken from the magazine Midwest Living.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sights of Christmas

Click to enlarge
Miguel's Christmas Tree
Living in the San Francisco neighborhood of our daughter is an artist with the most fertile creative mind. Miguel creates a mobile or ornamentation depicting a season or event which changes monthly. His creations hang from a cable at the front of his Victorian home and are easily viewed by a passerby. His fascinating creations are recycled "throw-aways". Miguel used 100 flavored drink bottles, scissors, and a glue gun, adding illumination to his masterpiece with electric lights to create a holiday masterpiece. The left center photo shows an ornamentation effect of "sculpting" some of the bottles by cutting into strips. The center photo is the lighted masterpiece.
This collage was forwarded again by our friend and daughter's neighbor Larry. Please keep those photos coming my "Roving Reporter, Larry".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sights of Christmas

San Francisco City Hall
The beautiful building housing City Hall is a replica of Les Invalides in Paris which houses Napoleon's tomb. Seasonal celebration with lighting effect enhances the atmosphere. One needs to be present to experience the visitors and city dwellers in awe viewing this site. Night time illumination reflects an architectural masterpiece. Nowhere else could a City reflect its pride better than San Francisco.
Thanks Steve for the photos.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stollen

Frosted and sprinkled with chopped nuts, this is a traditional Christmas bread at our home.
Stollen
Ingredients:Align Left
1 pkg. or cake of yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 3/4 cup sifted flour
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped citron*
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
2 tablespoons melted butter
Confectioners sugar icing
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1 log almond paste (recipe of 12/18)
*note: I use candied pineapple instead of citron.
***
Directions:
Sprinkle or crumble yeast into water, let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Scald milk. Add shortening, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Cool to lukewarm. Sift flour: measure.
*
Add yeast to milk. Add egg. Add 1 cup flour. Beat thoroughly. Add raisins, citron (or pineapple), and cherries. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board; knead in remaining flour. When smooth, place in greased bowl. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down. Turn out on board; let rest 10 minutes. Roll into an oval 3/4 inch thick. Brush 1/2 of oval with melted butter. Place a flattened log of almond past almost the length of the oval leaving about 1/2 inch at each end of the bread dough and about 3/4 inch wide. Fold dough over like a Parker House roll or divide dough and make two smaller versions. Do not press edges together. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes. Bake in moderate oven 350 F about 30 minutes. Spread lightly with icing: sprinkle with nuts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Almond Paste

Today I am posting a recipe for almond paste. Tomorrow I will post the recipe for Stollen, the German Christmas Bread which uses the almond paste.
***
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup egg whites
***
Directions:

In a food processor, grind the almonds into a fine powder, approximately 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and blend well. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and with a wooden spoon blend in the egg whites until smooth. On a flat surface lightly dusted with confectioners sugar, roll out the almond paste into a 14" long x 1" round log. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.
*
When rested, cut the log in two. On a smooth clean surface, roll out each piece to double its length, approximately 20 inches. Flatten each roll with your fingertips. Using a knife or a metal spatula, score the tops of the logs with crisscross marks. Coil each log and place on a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. You can store in a closed container in the refrigerator for one week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cinnamon Pretzels

Cinnamon Pretzels
Sugary cinnamon meets salty pretzels in this super easy , gift-worthy snack mix.
Directions:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 16oz bag small pretzels
***
Directions:
In a large roasting pan, stir together vegetable oil, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the pretzels, toss well to coat with cinnamon-sugar. Bake uncovered in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12 1 cup servings.
This recipe was copied from Midwest Magazine which has always been a reliable source of tasty recipes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Applesauce Spice Cake

Applesauce Spice Cake
Ingredients:
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cherries
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (for a sweeter cake, use sweetened applesauce)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup walnuts, chopped
powdered sugar
***
Directions:
In a saucepan stir together the raisins and dried cherries; stir in the apple cider. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the liquid is almost absorbed. Remove pan from heat; cool 20 minutes.
***
Meanwhile grease and lightly flour a fluted (bundt) tube pan; set aside.
***
In a large bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla. In a medium bowl combine flours, cinnamon baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into applesauce mixture just until combined. Stir in raisin mixture and nuts. Transfer to prepared pan.
***
Bake the cake in a 350 oven about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; Remove from pan and let cake cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before slicing.
***
This recipe was copied from the magazine Midwest Living. I have relied on this magazine for many years for accurate but delicious recipes usually contributed by the great Midwest cooks!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My 70th Birthday Surprise

Surprise Our daughter Anne and Family 25 Friends and Family The Big Surprise
***
A BIG Surprise
Yesterday I had a birthday to remember for the rest of my years. We live in the most wonderful neighborhood any person could be privileged to choose. My day started with breakfast with my neighbor Arlene and husband Don. Don said later that day we would have dinner and just the two of us. That evening we entered to the restaurant with the hostess graciously greeting us and taking us to "our seat" heading into the first dining room. The room erupted into "Surprise" and our granddaughters raced to embrace me. Our daughter Anne and family assisted my husband with the plans. Twenty five friends and family were there to celebrate my special day. What a birthday to remember.
I walk mornings with a neighbor Marilyn. One day we were chatting about not succumbing to age and the ailments. I said we were going to be tough girls like those that bend iron. We were not going to be a sissy. Marilyn's husband John found this card and chuckled all the way to the check-out. I am continuing to laugh John. That is your wife or me on that card!!! Maturity Rules.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Birthday Girls


***
The Birthday Girls
Meet my neighbor Arlene. Today we both celebrate another year on this day and in good health and good friends. Much to be so thankful.  Each year since we have lived in CA my husband Don takes our neighbor Arlene and myself to breakfast to start a happy day.  He is so thoughtful.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

***
Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for the pan.
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, plus more for dusting
***
Directions:
Heat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan and dust with the cocoa powder.
*
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with 1/4 cup of heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth, remove from heat.
*
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder; whisk in the chocolate mixture.
*
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before unmolding.
*
Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream with the creme fraiche and confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. Dust the cake with confectioners sugar and serve with the whipped cream.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pissaladiere

Pissaladiere
Directions:
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds onions, cutin small dice
20 nicoise olives, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt, plus pepper
12 anchovy fillets
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan-Reggiano
***

Directions:
Dissolve yeast in the water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and mix until the ingredients are combined. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball, and place in a bowl with a light coating of olive oil, rolling the dough in the oil to cover all the surfaces. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place.
*
After the dough has doubled in size (about 1 to 2 hours), divide it into 2 to 4 balls, depending on portion size, and place in a lightly floured tray. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, cover with a towel and let the balls rise for 1 hour more at room temperature.
*
Place the onions and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and cook over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. Cook the onions slowly, and do not let them color quickly. They should cook to a golden color only. Add olives, thyme, salt, and pepper, cook 5 minutes longer and remove from heat.
*
Preheat oven and pizza stone at 450F. 
*
Stretch the dough into desired shape, spread 1 1/2 cups onions evenly, top with anchovies and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a light lunch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shrimp With Tarragon Aiolo

Shrimp With Tarragon Aioli
***
Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds cooked peeled, and deveined large shrimp
1 cup store bought cocktail sauce
***
Directions:
In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, pickles, tarragon, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the shrimp and cocktail sauce.
*
To Make Ahead: The aioli can be made up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate covered.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bacon Cheddar and Mushroom Squares

Bacon Cheddar
and Mushroom Squares
***
Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely grated medium cheddar cheese
*
Filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallot
3/4 lb fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half cream
6 sliced cooked bacon, coarsely chopped
2 cups coarsely grated medium-cheddar cheese
***
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.F.
*
Lightly grease and line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
*
For crust, stir flour and sugar to combine. Cit in butter with fingers or a pastry cutter until coarse and crumbly (dough will appear dry). Stir in cheddar cheese and press into prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes and cool to room temperature.
*
For filling, Keep oven at 350.F. In a large saute pan over medium heat add oil, shallots and mushrooms. Saute until all liquid has evaporated from mushrooms, about 6 minutes, then stir in garlic and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat to cool.
*
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and cream. Stir in cooled mushroom mixture, chopped cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. Pour filling onto cooled crust and bake for about 30 minutes, until center of filling no longer jiggles. Cool squares to room temperature, then chill for at least 4 hours before slicing,
*
Squares can be served at room temperature or warmed for 10 minutes at 350F. in a baking tray.
Yield: Makes one 8-inch square pan or 25 squares.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pickled Carrots With Mint

Pickled Carrots With Mint
Ingredients:
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut ointo thin sticks
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn

***
Directions:
Brin a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes; drain and run under cold water to cool. Transfer to a bowl.
*
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, coriander and mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cupsa water and bring to a boil. Pour over the carrots and let cool to room temperature. Add the mint and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
***
To make ahead: The carrots can be made up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate covered.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Parmesan-Scallion Pastry Pinwheels


Parmesan-Pastry Pinwheels
Ingredients:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.5 oz. box), thawed
1 large egg, beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 oz.)
Kosher salt and pepper
***
Directions:
Heat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
*
Unfold the pastry and brush with the egg. Sprinkle with the scallions, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roll tightly into a log. Freeze until firm but still sliceable, about 20 minutes.
*
Slice the log into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
***
To make ahead: The pinwheels can be baked up to 6 hours in advance; store covered at room temperature. Alternatively, make and freeze the log, tightly wrapped, up to 1 week in advance. Let thaw slightly before slicing and baking.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms With Spinach


Stuffed Mushrooms With Spinach
Ingredients:
24 medium mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Gruyere, grated (2 ounces)
***
Directions:
Heat oven to 375F. Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop the stems and reserve. Coat a baking sheet with oil. Bake the mushroom caps, stem side down, until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
*
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped mushroom stems and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach,
1/4 teaspoon salt,
1/4 teaspoon pepper ,
and cook, tossing until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more.
*
In a bowl, combine the spinach mixture with the bread crumbs and cheese. Spoon into the mushroom caps and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
***
To Make Ahead: The mushroom caps can be baked and stuffed (but not baked for the second time with the stuffing) up to 2 days in advance, refrigerate covered. Bake again just before serving.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Caramelized Onion Dip


***
Caramelized Onion Dip
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 8 ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Thick-cut potato chips or vegetable chips, for serving
Low Calorie Note: Replace sour cream with low-fat cottage cheese blended with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Use Nuefactle cheese instead of cream cheese.
***
Directions:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
*
In a medium bowl, mix together the onions, cream cheese, sour cream, chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve with chips.
*
To Make Ahead: The dip can be made up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate covered.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Goat Cheese With Pistachios And Cranberries


***
Goat Cheese With Pistachios
And Cranberries
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons roasted pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
1 8-to-10 ounce log fresh goat cheese
Crackers or bread for serving
***
Directions:
On a large plate combine the pistachios and cranberries. Roll the goat cheese in the fruit-and-nut mixture to coat. Serve with crackers or bread.
Make Ahead: The cheese can be coated up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate covered.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walnut-Pepper Spread


Walnut-Pepper Spread
Wanting to get organized for a party or just an evening around the fireplace with family? This is a great make ahead spread which allows the flavors to develop.
***
Ingredients:
Pulse: 2 cups toasted english walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
*
Transfer to a bowl:
Mix in: 1 chopped toasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
***
Make one day prior. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving with crackers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tuscan Kale Chips

Tuscan Kale Chips
This is another recipe that daughter Barbara shared. Roasting creates a briny but addictive flavor. Barbara said it is so easy to eat a bunch of kale as these are so tasty. The recipe can be found on epicurious.com which I often search.
***
Ingredients:
12 large Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed 1 tablespoon olive oil
***

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250°F. Toss kale with oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Today I am posting another version of the popular "crackers" served as appetizers. This recipe if from our daughter Barbara and was one tht a chef demonstrated at a cooking class that Barbara attended. Thank you for sharing Barbara!
Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/3 cups grated Sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped medium fine
***
Directions:
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cheese and butter and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the walnuts on low speed. The dough should be fairly stiff, with small chunks of cheese and walnuts visible.
*
Transfer the dough to parchment paper, waxwed paper, or plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1" in diameter. Wrap well and freeze until hard, about 2 hours. Or gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm but still pliable, about 1 hour.
*
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.
*
Unwrap a log and cut crosswise into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. If you have shaped the dough into a disk, unwrap, place on a floured work surface, and roll out into a swuare or rectangle 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 inch squares, 1 x 2 inch rectangles or whatever shape you like. Arrange the crackers on the prepared pan spacing the about 1 inch apart.
*
Bake the crackers until they are brown on the edges and lighter in the center, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The crackers will keep in an air tight container in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.
*
Blue Cheese Crackers Variation: Make the dough as directed, substituting 2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled blue cheese for the cheddar cheese and 1 teaspoon crunbled sage or minced fresh sage for the cayenne pepper. Cut and bake as directed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rosemary Crackers

Rosemary Crackers
Our daughter Barbara recently attended a cooking class with a lady who serves as a personal chef to several clients. She emailed me the recipe from the class for Cheddar Cheese Crackers. These are becomimg popular as appetizers and the recipe is gluten free. Since I have a bush of culinary rosemary, finding this recipe seemed like a good use for the herb and something that would be tasty with a glass of wine in the evening.
***
1 ¾ cups blanched almond flour

½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 egg

***

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and rosemary .

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil and egg.

Stir wet ingredients into almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Roll the dough into a ball and press between 2 sheets of parchment paper to ⅛ inch thickness .

Remove top piece of parchment paper.

Transfer the bottom piece with rolled out dough onto baking sheet. Cut dough into 2-inch squares with a knife or pizza cutter. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let crackers cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes, then serve . Yield 24 crackers

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kale Salad

Kale Salad
The favored dish at our Thanksgiving dinner was the Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes recipe which I posted Friday. I follow another blog "Elana's Pantry". This blogger posts gluten free recipes. Monday I received this recipe in an email from Elana and thought it was too nutritious and easy not to share.
***
Ingredients:
2 bunches kale
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
***
Directions: Steam the kale until it is bright green. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, toast the pine nuts. Allow kale and pine nuts five minutes to cool, then toss together in a large bowl. Add dried cranberries and olive oil/ Toss and serve . Serves 8

Monday, November 29, 2010

Del Mar Fairgrounds

The Bronze Buckaroo Welcomes The Grandstand Facade
Del Mar Fairgrounds / Race Track
"Where The Surf Meets The Turf"
We spent Sunday attending an Art Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Mission style facility has been very well maintained. Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, and Charles Howard with one other partner built the facility in 1937. 

It was Charles Howard's horse "Seabiscuit" that gave the race track the early fame it enjoyed winning the $25,000.00 "winner take all race" in 1938. In the early 1940's it was the playground for the rich and famous from Hollywood. One can actually see the ocean from the fairgrounds and today continues with the slogan "where the surf meets the turf".

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake Tomorrow is our 51st wedding anniversary. This will make a nice cake to celebrate the special occasion. Ingredients:
Cake
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
Frosting, recipe follows
***
Directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans and line each pan with a round of parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl
***
Cream the butter, sugar and oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and food coloring.
***
Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. Let cool completely before frosting. Slice each cake into 2 layers and frost.
*
Frosting:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
Directions:
Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
***
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 6 minutes. Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

This year I tried a twist with the potatoes for our Thanksgiving dinner since I have a few who do not eat gravy. Plain mashed potatoes reqiures gravy. A seasoned mashed potato mixed with vegetables has a unique flavor. This was the recipe that received the reuests to have a copy. It was an amazing winner!
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2 cup+ warm milk or cream
freshly ground black pepper
5 scallions, white and tender green parts chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (opt)
fried shallots, for garnish (optional)
***
Directions:
Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
*
Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender-about a minute. Set aside.
*
Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk or cream in a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt & pepper.
*
Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese, and shallots. Serves 6

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let Us Give Thanks!

Let Us Give Thanks!
Today is our national day of Thanksgiving. For me every day is a day of thanksgiving. I live in a land of the free, I have a loving family with good health, and always happy to be together. Today more than ever, I say Thank You God for your many blessings!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Custard Tart With Red-Wine Caramel Sauce

The tart fresh from the oven to be served
with the red-wine carmel sauce
Pumpkin Custard Tart With
Red-Wine Caramel Sauce
This recipe is dessert #2 chosen for our family Thanksgiving dinner. The family insists on a pumpkin pie for tradition. The remaining choice is the cook's choice. I found this recipe on epicurious.com. I thought I would try the recipe for the Red-Wine Caramel Sauce. If it failed I would make another choice for our pumpkin dessert. It turned out to be a winner and rather simple. Directions are very easy to follow. The Pumpkin Custard Tart recipe goes together rather simple.
***
Ingredients:
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
***
Directions:
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into small heavy saucepan, then add pod and wine. Boil over moderate heat until wine is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Discard pod.
***
While wine is reducing, bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup turns pale golden. Continue to cook caramel, swirling pan, until deep golden.
***
Remove from heat, then carefully pour wine down side of pan (caramel will vigorously steam and harden). Simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter and serve warm. Yield: 1 1/4 cups Red-wine caramel sauce keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week. Reheat before serving.
***
For dough:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole almonds with skin (2 1/2 oz.), toasted.
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch each of ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, white pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg
*
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
***
Directions:
Pulse almonds, flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a food processor until nuts are very finely ground.
*
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing at low speed just until dough forms. Form dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic, until firm, at least 2 hours.
*
Pumpkin Custard: Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, molasses, salt, and spices. Whisk in pumpkin, then cream.
***
For Pumpkin Filling:
Ingredients:
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon mild molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, mace, cloves, and freshly grates nutmeg
*
1 3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin (15 oz.) or fresh pumpkin puree
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons pine nuts
***
Assemble And Bake Tart:
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F
*
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12" round. (Dough will be sticky, so rotate frequently and dust with flour as needed). Slide bottom of tart pan under dough and set the rim of tart pan. Press dough against side of pan and trim excess. (Dough cracks easy but can be patched.)
*
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in lower third of oven until dough is set and pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights, then add custard, spreading evenly. Sprinkle top with pine nuts and bake until filling is set, 30 to 35 minutes. (If edge of crust is browning too quickly, cover edge with foil or a piecrust shield.) Cool completely in pan on a rack.
*
Remove rim of tart pan, leaving tart on pan bottom, and transfer to a platter.